Valencia Mayor Edgar Teves, former vice governor of Negros Oriental, reiterated his opposition to the proposed One Negros Island Region.
In a statement to the STAR, Teves said he feels it is still not advantageous for Negros Oriental to re-join the move to establish a one-island region. He said his stand, which he made in a position paper when he was vice governor of the province from 1998-2001, remains the same.
Titled “The Pros and Cons of One Negros Island Proposal,” Teves's position paper outlined six advantages and five disadvantages.
A one-island region would give Negros a strong political influence on the national government. It would also be easy to package and promote tourism. One-Negros Island has a great potential for becoming a land-based and integrated business hub. It could also speed up the delivery of basic services and promote the equitable distribution of resources. It could result in better peace and order in both provinces, and there will be new growth areas as a result of the creation of regional offices in the region.
On the other hand, he said the proposal has constitutional defects. Creating a new local government, he said, requires a law. He said it appears that the One Negros initiative does not seek to create a new Negros region in the absence of a constitutional amendment. He said if a region is created by an executive order, it will not have a bigger budget because the computation of the Internal Revenue Allotment is based on the formula set by law.
The huge budgetary requirement to create at least 30 national government agencies in the new region, estimated at between P40-50 billion, is better spent on development and livelihood project that will directly benefit a large sector of society, he said.
Teves also said Negros Oriental will be underrepresented in the One Island Region. The Regional Development Council of the new region, he said, will have more representatives from Negros Occidental because it has a bigger voting population and has more towns and cities.
With the present set up, he said, Cebu may have more votes but Negros Oriental can always team up with Bohol and Siquijor to come up with a bloc.
Negros Oriental, Teves said, lags behind Negros Occidental economically and in population, giving Occidental the competitive edge in terms of power and influence. He said “the reality in our political system in our country is rigged in favor of those who have more population and economic resources.”
Teves also pointed out barriers, such as language and culture, which he said are difficult to overcome.*AP
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