The Negros Island Region has lost an ally with the dismissal by President Rodrigo Duterte of Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno for“loss of trust and confidence”.


But Local Government Undersecretary Jesus Hinlo yesterday said the fate of the NIR does not depend on Sueño, it depends on the president.

Even without Sueño, Hinlo said he is still at the DILG and definitely he will continue the lobby for the retention of the NIR.

Hinlo said he was able to talk to the president about the call for NIR’s retention and he said he is still studying the matter,“Let us hope for the best,” he said.

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon and Negros Oriental Gov. RoelDegamo said they respect the decision of the president on Sueño,but they are calling for prayers that the new DILG secretary will also support the retention of the NIR.

The lobby for the NIR retention started when Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno announced last year that the president was set to rescind the creation of the NIR for lack of budget. Diokno later also claimed the creation of the NIR was unconstitutional.

NIR composed of the provinces of Negros Occidental and Oriental,was created by virtue of Executive Order No. 183 issued by President Benigno Aquino III on May 29, 2015.


Sueno disputed the claims of Diokno and was preparing the defense for the retention of the NIR before the Cabinet when he was sacked.

The announcement of Sueño’s dismissal was made at the end of the 14th Cabinet Meeting Monday.

“We hope and pray that the next DILG secretary will also be like Secretary Sueño who supported the NIR”, Degamosaid.

Degamo said they will work to convince Sueno’s replacement to support the NIR.

Negros Occidental Provincial Planning and Development Officer, Marlin Sanogal, a member of the NIR technical working group, added that Gov. Marañon said “We have to respect the president’s decision because that is his discretion. Let’s just pray that whoever succeeds Sec. Sueno at the DILG will also push for the NIR.”

Sanogal said she has not received any update from the DILG yet on the effect Sueño’s dismissal on the NIR push. But since there is a Cabinet cluster composed of the DILG, Department of Budget and Management, National Economic and Development Authority, Office of the President and Presidential Management Staff assigned to discuss the pros and cons of retention, Sanogal said she hopes the discussion will push through in the next Cabinet meeting despite the absence of Sueno.

The NIR has strong accomplishments that can stand on their own merits, she said.

Also there are Negrenses like DILG undersecretaries Hinlo and Austere Panaderowho are actually the ones preparing the arguments for NIR, Sanogal said.


Negros Occidental Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said “We have lost a champion for NIR, it will now depend on who will replace him.”

Former Negros Occidental Gov. Rafael Coscolluela said he cannot cast any judgment on Sueno, but if the allegations against him have any basis, appropriate charges should be filed.

“Pending resolution, a preventive suspension would have been the fair thing to do. That’s called due process. But since he serves at the pleasure of the President, it’s the President’s call. Loss of confidence is enough ground for removal from office. PRRD gets an A+ for political will, “ he said.

But it’s really a sad turn of events that the administration can’t afford to happen again, Coscolluela said, adding that he hopes that’s the end of it for the nation’s sake.

On losing a champion for NIR with Sueno gone, Coscolluela said, maybe but there’s still Hinlo and Panadero.

“I hope they can take up the cudgels for us, at least in the DILG. I just hope they find a good replacement DILG. Someone who knows LGUs, someone who can isolate DILG programs from partisan political considerations, and someone who can strengthen NAPOLCOM and preserve the integrity of the PNP”,Coscolluela said.

Hinlo said he trusts the decision and wisdom of the president in dismissing Sueno.

“I trust that the President’s decision is based on his own investigation and supporting evidence,”Hinlosaid.


Hinlo said thatfrom his personal knowledge, the reason for Sueno’s dismissal involved the DILG purchase of Rosenbauerfiretrucksfrom Austria without bidding.

There is a pending case with the Supreme Court involving the firetrucks, but Sueño still proceeded with the transaction, Hinlo said.

“There should be due diligence, that’s the issue that I think weighed heavy on the decision of the president,” he said.

Meanwhile, “We have no choice but to remain optimistic that the DILG will be able to perform its mandate both for the local government units and ensure that the interior side would be able the protect the people against criminality, fire, and ensure the custody of the inmates,” Hinlo said.

In a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the dismissal of one of the president’s close allies served as a warning that Duterte would not countenance any questionable or legally untenable decisions by any member of the Cabinet.


Fears have also been raised that Duterte could eventually appoint former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to the DILG post after the one year ban since he ran for vice president last year ends.*CPG