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PIA Press Release

Zamboanga regional transfer policy revisited

Dipolog City (5 September) -- The Office of the Presidential Adviser for New Government Centers (OPANGC) has organized a technical working group (TWG) to revisit the policy on the transfer of the regional center from Zamboanga City to Pagadian City following dialogues held in Zamboanga City recently.

The TWG is composed of representatives of Zamboanga and Pagadian and the regional offices of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA-9), Department of Science Technology (DOST-9), and the OPANGC headed by Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

The group is expected to generate "alternative tracks" related to the regional transfer order, a move that is met with vigorous objection from regional directors and their employees based in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Sec. Bello, who spearheaded the dialogue initiated by Zamboanga City mayor Celso Lobregat at his office recently, has formally submitted his report and recommendations to the Office of the President through Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

In his report, Bello enumerated the "major constraints" identified by the regional directors which are affecting the transfer and the apprehensions raised by the employees unions on the "possible adverse impact of the transfer on their socioeconomic lives and their family members."

The Regional Executives Association of Western Mindanao (REAWISMIN) led by DOST director Brenda Nazareth cited budgetary constraints that inhibit the agencies to effect the transfer, the strong employees' opposition to the transfer due to their perceived possible economic dislocation and social displacement, the lack of infrastructure and facilities in Pagadian City that are essential to effective operation of relocating agencies. Pagadian is considered less strategic than Zamboanga City.

"It is also believed that the illegal drug activities in Misamis Occidental province are spilling over in Pagadian, as evidenced by the proliferation of crimes against persons and property," Sec. Bello said in his report, a copy of which was furnished to Mayor Lobregat.

He said the Department of Education regional director reported the murder of two of his employees in Pagadian City whose cases remain unsolved.

The representatives of the employees' unions also presented their respective manifestos requesting President Gloria Arroyo to "defer the transfer if not keep the regional center in Zamboanga City."

The transfer of the regional center is provided under Executive Order 429, series of 1990 and memorandum circular 75, series of 2004, two directives being opposed by the national agencies in the region and the local government of Zamboanga and its residents.

The TWG initially met last August 31 in Manila. It will again convene this month in Pagadian City "to discuss the alternative tracks generated and arrive at a roadmap on the regional center. The roadmap is set to be discussed on Sept. 18 during the meeting of the Regional Development Council-9 and upon RDC approval, the same will be submitted to the President for action.

Meanwhile, Sec. Bello in his report also recommended the creation of an inter-agency committee at the department level to provide policy support and direction on the TWG work.

The committee is proposed to be chaired by the OPANGC with the NEDA, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as members. (MO/PIA-ZN) [top]

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