Thursday, July 24, 2008 [ philstar.com ]
BALER, Aurora – Sen. Edgardo Angara bared plans of creating a new region that would embrace the landlocked provinces of Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela and this province into what will be known as the North East Pacific Region (NEPR), distinct from Central Luzon and Cagayan Valley.
Angara told reporters at the Aurora State College of Technology during the inauguration of the University of the Philippines School of Health Sciences (UPSHS) here Monday that he had broached the idea of the new region to Nueva Vizcaya Gov. Ma. Luisa Cuaresma and Rep. Carlos Padilla, who both expressed support for it.
“They support it because it’s an idea that makes sense,” he said.
Padilla confirmed that he and Cuaresma are backing up the proposed region.
“Maybe we will talk with Sen. Angara on the possibility of filing a bill on this or not,” he told The STAR in a text message.
For her part, the senator’s younger sister, Aurora Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, said she has yet to discuss the issue with her brother.
Angara expressed hope that Isabela, through the leadership of Gov. Grace Padaca, would also support the proposal, which would carve out southern Isabela from Palanan down to the boundary of Aurora as part of the NEPR.
Angara said Quirino was included in the proposed region because it is inaccessible and in fact, more accessible to Aurora with Cabarroguis town just less than an hour away from this province. On the other hand, Bayambang in Nueva Vizcaya is just two hours away from Aurora.
He said they will hold consultations in the four provinces as part of an information drive for the proposed NEPR.
Angara said the four provinces proposed to be grouped under the NEPR are located in a wilderness area bordering the Pacific Ocean.
He said the proposed region hosts the two biggest water sources, the Casecnan Dam and the Umiray River, which supply water to the Pantabangan and Angat dams.
The area, he said, also boasts of the two largest mountain ranges in the country – the Sierra Madre and Caraballo.
“If you notice, we have many things in common – we are rich in water resources, timber, fish and marine resources. We will make for a very cohesive and compatible region,” he said.
He added that the four provinces can have a common infrastructure, intermodal transport, school district and health program.
Angara said the four provinces already have a common health program through the establishment of the UPSHS, which would service students from these areas.
He said the school has enlisted 35 scholars from the province, 15 in Nueva Vizcaya, eight in Isabela, and one in Nueva Ecija.
The senator from Baler said the creation of the new region will have to be made through an act of Congress and is tailor-made for a federal system of government.
“If we go federal, this is perfect. Para kang State of Nevada (You are like the State of Nevada),” he said.
Under the present set-up, Quirino, Isabela and Nueva Vizcaya belong to Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) while this province is part of Central Luzon.
Aurora used to be under the Southern Tagalog region but President Arroyo transferred it to Central Luzon reportedly to fast-track its development.