Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas led the first integrated planning meeting to ensure inclusive growth in the Negros Island Region (NIR), held in Quezon City last Friday.

According to Roxas, integrated planning, which will happen through proper coordination between the Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, can promote inclusive growth in the region and help the local government avoid inefficient and unfinished projects.

Sa ganoong paraan ay mapapabilis ‘yung mga planning, execution, implementation ng mga development projects sa Negros Island,” Roxas said.

To achieve this, Roxas and the Technical Working Group (TWG) sorted all government agencies under the NIR based on their function.

Representatives from two provinces have strategically decided the placement of these clustered government offices across the NIR in a way that will guarantee everyone better access to state services, further improving the quality of life in the region.

Since integrated ang mga proyekto, ang mga kalye tuloy tuloy, ang irrigasyon tuloy tuloy. Magiging coordinated ang planning dito,” Roxas said, referring to the socioeconomic development plans in the NIR.

The NIR will also establish its own Regional Development Council (RDC), Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), and Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) Council, which will focus on the development and stability of the island.

This is in stark contrast with the provinces’ previous situation, where their constituents and local officials had to go to another island before they could reach their respective regional government offices.

The lack of public investment was also the reason why the island of Negros is a poverty-stricken area, with a 50.9% poverty rate in Negros Oriental and 34.2% in Negros Occidental.

To remedy this, President Aquino recently signed Executive Order no. 183 to pursue faster and more efficient delivery of basic government services, as well as to strengthen social and cultural unity between the two provinces.

Malaking bagay ito upang mapabilis ang pag-iimplement natin ng E.O. 183. Malayo na ang nararating natin, at kung patuloy tayo dito sa Daang Matuwid, mas malayo pa at mas mabilis pa nating mararating ang magandang bukas na inaasam-asam natin,” Roxas said.