Will the Negros Island Region be abolished?

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(CNN Philippines) - Negros Occidental Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson refutes Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino's statement.that the Negros Island Region (NIR) would need a ₱19 billion budget for 2017.

"What we need now is a budget for personnel services and maintenance, operating expenses. The infra [infrastructure] could be done in phases. Surely this will not entail ₱19 billion for 2017," Lacson said in a text message to CNN Philippines.

Then-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).

At the sidelines of the House Committee Hearings in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu last week, Dino said 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.

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

For his part, Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo said that his province is ready to revert back to Region 7 should Aquino's order be dissolved.

Degamo disclosed however, that the previous administration did not allocate funds for both Negros Oriental and Occidental in the 2016 General Appropriations Act. 

He added that he and Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. are seeking a response from Malacañang.

Degamo stressed that as long as there is no executive order dissolving the NIR, they will still operate as mandated. The Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses allocated for Negros Oriental in the Region 7 budget will be used in the meantime.