DEVOTIONS. The people of Tacloban City and the rest of Leyte continue to pay their homage and respect to Senior Santo Niño. This year marks the 135th fiesta of Tacloban City, with the Child Jesus as its patron.

Inspired by NIR creationJIPAPAD, Eastern Samar- Inspired by the approval of the Negros Island Region (NIR), a party-list representative from Eastern Samar plans to refile a bill creating the Samar Island Region (SIR).

Rep. Marcelino Libanan of the 4Ps party-list said that the approval of NIR by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has encouraged officials from Samar Island in their efforts to separate from Leyte, Southern Leyte, and Biliran, the other provinces that belong to the Eastern Visayas region.

“I recently had a meeting with other officials of Samar to discuss the proposal of One Samar Island Region in light of the approval of Negros Island Region by the President, and we think it’s about time that we also renew our call for One Samar Island Region,” said Libanan, who is also the minority floor leader of the House of Representatives, in an interview on Monday (July 1) as he attended the 60th founding anniversary of Jipapad.

Libanan mentioned that he would reintroduce a bill for the SIR proposal upon the resumption of their session this month, a measure he filed in 2023.

Initially, they have agreed to consider the town of Paranas, Samar, as the potential center of the proposed SIR, noting its ideal location, which is proximate to both Eastern Samar and Northern Samar.

President Marcos approved the creation of NIR, as contained under RA 12000, on June 13 of this year. The newly-created region comprises Negros Occidental, including Bacolod City, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor.

Samar Island, the third largest island in the country with 333,300 hectares, is composed of (Western) Samar, Eastern Samar, and Northern Samar, with a combined population of more than 1.90 million.

These provinces are among the poorest in the country. According to records from the Philippine Statistics Authority as of last year, the poverty rate in Samar is at 35.8%; Eastern Samar, 35.6%; and Northern Samar, 27.5%.

The island also faces an insurgency problem, which is often cited as a reason for the lack of investors.

Samar officials, backed by the bishops of the island, believe that having their own region would help facilitate its development and allow the national government to focus more on the development of its infrastructure, particularly the road network.

Additionally, having a SIR would mean that those with government transactions would no longer need to go to Tacloban City in Leyte, the regional capital.

On Sunday, Rep. Libanan led the opening of a 1.3 km road connecting the town of Jipapad in Eastern Samar to Las Navas in Northern Samar.

These two areas, aside from being among the poorest municipalities, continue to be plagued by the insurgency problem.

However, Jipapad Mayor Benjamin Ver said that the opening of the road, worth more than P100 million, is seen by them as the “missing link” in their dream of achieving development and security.