Negros Island Region officially designated as Region 18, interim offices to be put up

The newly-created Negros Island Region composed of the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental has been officially designated as Region XVIII.

The technical working group (TWG), comprised of representatives from the Office of the President, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), and representatives from both Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental led by their respective governors Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Roel Degamo, have already conducted its first meeting since President Benigno Aquino III signed Executive Order 183 which created the new region.

DILG Secretary Mar Roxas presided over the meeting.

It was agreed upon that temporary regional offices, which are expected to begin partial operations by October this year, be set up in Bacolod City in Negros Occidental and Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental.

Rappler reported that interim regional offices were divided among the two provinces.

Negros Occidental is expected to host agencies falling under the Agriculture and Land Use cluster such as the Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agrarian Reform and Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board; the Peace and Security cluster which includes the Department of Justice and its attached agencies, the Bureau of Fire Protection, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Philippine National Police, Department of National Defense and Office of Civil Defense; and the Governance cluster which includes the DILG, DBM, NEDA, Department of Finance, Commission on Audit and Commission on Elections.

Meanwhile, Negros Oriental is expected to host those falling under the Human Development cluster such as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, Commission on Higher Education, Civil Service Commission, Philippine Statistics Authority, and Professional Regulation Commission; the Infrastructure Cluster such as Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Transportation and Communications and attached agencies, including Land Transportation Office, Maritime Industry Authority, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, and National Telecommunications Commission; and the Industry and Labor cluster such as the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Tourism, Department of Science and Technology, and Securities and Exchange Commission.

Moving forward, both provinces agreed that permanent regional offices shall be set up at the boundary of both provinces. For this, the Central Philippine State University proposed the use of 20 to 25 hectares of its land in Barangay Tagukon, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental as the site of the permanent regional center, only 10 meters away from the town of Mabinay in Negros Oriental.

Meanwhile, Secretary Roxas said that OIC regional directors of these agencies will be appointed to help set up the new Region XVIII.