Gov't mulls abolishing Negros Island Region due to budget constraints, cabinet official says

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Cebu City (CNN Philippines) — The country could have one less region in the future, as the government mulls abolishing the Negros Island Region (NIR) because of financial constraints.

According to Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino, the government cannot fund the ₱19 billion needed for establishing the new region composed of the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. He hinted there is a "huge" possibility that the region will be abolished.

President Benigno Aquino formed the region on May 29 this year under Executive Order 183. Negros Occidental was part of Western Visayas (Region 6) and Negros Oriental was part of Central Visayas (Region 7). 

"It is a concern on the budget. We are streamlining so that is the reason why the consensus of the group (is a status quo)," the Cebu City-based cabinet official said.

He pointed out that the NIR was not allocated funds from the national budgets for 2016 and 2017.

Dino said he was able to talk to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez about the issue and was told that the existing regions will have a status quo.

This means Central Visayas and Western Visayas will remain prior to the creation of the NIR.

At the sidelines of the House Committee Hearings in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu this week, Dino said that the two Negros Island provinces will just have wait for the proposed federal form of government.

"Anyway it will be superseded by the federal form of government. They will have (what they want) in the future. They will have to wait for two or three years," explained Dino.

Dino said that President Rodrigo Duterte has the power to take back Aquino's directive so the two provinces would revert back to their former regions.

Dino said regional government offices are still in the planning stage and have not yet been functional in the NIR. The two provinces are still under the regional agencies of their former regions.