By Antonio Manaytay
Representative Wilter Palma II has sought the transfer of the regional center of the Zamboanga Peninsula to Ipil, the capital town of Zamboanga Sibugay.
Palma filed House Bill No. 5051 seeking to designate Ipil town as the regional center. The provinces of Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga del Norte; and the cities of Zamboanga and Isabela comprise the Zamboanga Peninsula.
An act of Congress
Palma argued in his explanatory note that the present regional center was not created by an act of Congress.
He said EO 429 had transferred only the administrative center but Zamboanga City is still the “commercial and industrial center.”
Section 1 of EO 429 states: “The City of Pagadian shall serve as the regional center, while the City of Zamboanga shall remain the commercial and industrial center.”
This division, according to Palma, has resulted in scattered regional offices of the region.
The Zamboanga Sibugay solon contended that scattered regional offices cause “additional burden to our citizens.”
The town of Ipil is located at an almost equidistant location from the three cities of the region. Making it a regional center will shorten the travel time for the people going to the regional center.
Which is which
Pagadian City became the regional center by virtue of Executive Order 429 signed by President Corazon Aquino. EO 429 reorganized the Zamboanga Peninsula to include Misamis Occidental and Lanao del Norte.
Six years after, President Fidel Ramos issued EO 325 reorganizing the Regional Development Council and made Zamboanga City as the regional center again.
In 2001, President Gloria Arroyo returned the provinces of Misamis Occidental and Lanao del Norte to Region 10. The order did not touch the issue of the regional center.
But in 2004 the Arroyo government ordered the transfer of the regional center from Zamboanga City to Pagadian City by virtue of the Memorandum Circular 75. The memorandum signed by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita cited EO 429 as the legal basis.
In 2010, however, Malacañang halted the transfer of the regional offices.
If passed into law, HB 5051 will finally settle the issue of the regional center of the Zamboanga Peninsula, Palma said. (Featured Image: Facebook/Mindanao Sun)