Freeman Region

Governors want Negros federal state

Juancho R. Gallarde - The Freeman

DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines — After the unification of Negros Occidental and Oriental as a region was dissolved, the reality of their being one government unit is not at all gone, as the two governors recently proposed to transform Negros island into a federal state instead.

Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo met over the weekend at the Negros Oriental Capitol building to discuss the creation of a federal state of Negros Island.

The meeting was attended by Arthur Aguilar, a member of the 20-man Consultative Commission that President Rodrigo Duterte had created to work on and submit a draft of a new Constitution under a federal form of government.

To date, the commission—headed by retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno, with Senate President Koko Pimentel, and two Supreme Court associate justices, among the members—is still deliberating on the ideal number of federal states to be created.

Aguilar, who represents Negros and Western Visayas in the commission, accompanied Marañon to the meeting with Degamo in Dumaguete City. He clarified though that the commission’s function is recommendatory in nature only, and it is expected to submit the recommended draft to the president by the end of June this year.

He said the commission has been meeting with many sectors as possible, and had finished discussions on the basic structure of the proposed federal governmet, while on the act of completing the forms of the judiciary and legislative arms.

Aguilar said his personal recommendation, after the Degamo-Marañon meeting, is for Negros Island to become a federal state to ensure that the two Negros provinces stick together.

He said it really makes sense for Negros to be one state because it is one of the most economically viable islands, as the fourth largest of the Philippines and one of the richest.

Degamo, for his part, had proposed to retain the governors of the two provinces and the state to be headed by either one of them. (FREEMAN)

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