Press Release
February 16, 2016


Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto today asked the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to "scrape the bottom of the barrel" just to ensure that funds are released this year to make the administration of the new Negros Island Region (NIR) operational.

"I urge the DBM to exhaust all means possible, even scraping the bottom of the barrel, to ensure that the Negros Island Region will be fully operational this year," Recto said.

"It is imperative that money from DBM be released this year, not next year, for the establishment of regional offices in One Negros. This is needed to jumpstart the full operation of the new region the soonest time possible," he added.

Recto said offices of national agencies must be able "to make lipat -bahay" as soon as possible to two designated cities where regional offices will be established - Bacolod City and Dumaguete City.

It would be better if the offices "are clustered in a regional center" that will be built in said cities, Recto said.

"Putting the offices in close proximity with each other would transform the center into a one-stop shop which would help the transacting public," he explained.

The Negros Island Region was created with the signing by President Benigno Aquino III of Executive Order No. 183 dated May 29, 2015.

To make the region operational, a Negros Island Technical Working Group (NIR-TWG) was established with the participation of Office of the President (OP), DBM, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the representatives of the provinces of Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental.

EO No. 183 tasked the NIR-TWG to arrange the requirements for organizational development, staffing, and budgeting of regional line and regulatory agencies.

Three regional councils were also set up as interim secretariats: the Negros Island Development Council headed by NEDA, the Negros Island Peace and Order Council headed by the DILG, and the Negros Island Disaster Risk Response Management Council headed by the Office of Civil Defense (OCD).

Recto noted that Malacañang also signed Memorandum Circular No. 81 on August 15, 2015, directing all heads of national government agencies to extend full assistance in the transition to the Negros Island Region.

The Senate leader explained that the memorandum outlined the measures that need to be undertaken for the preliminary transition of the new region such as:

  • designation of Interim Regional Directors, not later than 1 October 2015;

  • complete transition measures by 1 January 2016, in time for the opening of the NIR;

  • organize and/or establish Regional Offices (RO), including ROs for attached agencies, in either Bacolod City or Dumaguete City, in accordance with the guidelines to be issued by the DBM, and until such time that the Regional Center is developed;

  • and program the transfer of data and other assets of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental from Region VI and Region VII, respectively, into the new NIR.

Recto disclosed that the DBM has already released the implementing guidelines on the creation of the NIR with the release of DBM Circular Letter No. 2015-13 dated December 1, 2015.

Regional offices to be located in Dumaguete include the Department of Education (DepEd), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Commission on Civil Service (CSC), Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA), and the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC).

To be based in Bacolod are the regional offices of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Justice (DOJ), DILG--Interior Agencies and Local Government Sector, Department of National Defense--Office of Civil Defense (DND/OCD), DBM, Department of Finance (DOF), NEDA, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), Commission on Audit (COA) and the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).

"These regional offices are in the frontline of service delivery. The sooner they are set up and made functional, the better for our people who need their services," Recto pointed out.

"A clear timetable for the transition of the NIR would also aid government employees in the regional level prepare for possible dislocation as a result of their re-deployment in other area," the senator added.

He said the funds that will complete the transfer must be included in the 2017 budget "as a line item".

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