ZAMBOANGA CITY — The Regional Development Council (RDC) yesterday overwhelmingly voted to name Zamboanga City as the regional center of Region 9.
This, following a long and tedious process of secret balloting and run-off style of selection.
Of the total 34 members present during the 135th RDC meeting held at the Top Plaza Hotel in Dipolog City, 26 voted in favor of Zamboanga City to be the regional center in Region 9. Only 4 members voted for Pagadian City while 4 others abstained from voting.
The first process was to vote through secret balloting, the proposition on whether or not the RDC headed by Dipolog City Mayor Evelyn Uy, should take a stand on the regional center issue. This was based on a letter from the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) dated February 17, 2011 giving the RDC-9 until February 24 to decide on the issue. Mayor Uy however sought an extension, which was consequently granted, on grounds that the next RDC-9 was set for March 4 (yesterday).
During the initial voting, 35 members were present, of which 24 voted yes, 8 voted no, 2 abstained while one was not authorized to vote. At this juncture, 2 members, one of which was a representative of Mayor Sammy Kho of Pagadian asked to be excused, as it is their position for the RDC not to make a stand on the issue. One of the two had no voting power.
The second process was the run-off style (meaning in no particular order) whereby the members were to vote on which city they prefer or opt to be the regional center and per suggestion of Mayor Celso Lobregat, all the cities were nominated and the two cities that will have the highest number of votes will undergo another round of secret balloting process to choose which among the two will be the final choice of the RDC.
The result of the secret balloting during the run-off process is as follows Zamboanga City-22; Pagadian City- 5; Dipolog City- 3; Ipil (component capital of Sibugay)- 2; Dapitan City- 0; Isabela City- 0. Two members abstained from voting.
In an earlier presentation of the profile of the different cities in the region, it was emphasized by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) that the cities were presented on basis of their strengths and weaknesses. Based on the study, it was found out that Zamboanga City has all the facilities necessary for a functional regional center while Pagadian City is lacking in facilities.
The final round was to choose which between Zamboanga and Pagadian of which, the result was an overwhelming vote for Zamboanga with 26 votes and 4 votes for Pagadian. Four other members abstained.
Based on the final outcome, Mayor Lobregat moved for a resolution stating that the RDC-9 official stand is for Zamboanga City to be the regional center of Region 9. The motion was seconded by Health Regional Director Dr. Aristides Tan.
In 2001, the RDC-9, then under chairman Gov. Isagani Amatong approved resolution IX-32-2001 proposing to the office of the president the amendment to Executive Order 36 to explicitly identify Zamboanga City as the regional center of Region 9.
EO 36, signed by then President Gloria Arroyo on Sept. 19, 2001, provides for the reorganization of the administrative regions in Mindanao and for other purposes. It was issued as a result of the August 2001 plebiscite where Basilan province opted to join the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The same order is silent on the designation of the regional government centers in Mindanao but the city of Pagadian clamored for the transfer of the government center from Zamboanga City to Pagadian City pursuant to the provisions of EO 429 issued by the late President Cory Aquino in 1990.
Several regional offices were ordered transferred to Pagadian City resulting to a controversy on the designation of the government center in Region 9 or Zamboanga Peninsula.
Last December 11, 2010, Malacanang issued Memorandum Circular 11 ordering a 30-day moratorium on the transfer order. It expired January 21 but Malacanang extended the moratorium to March 31 through MC No. 11-A giving concerned agencies the chance to submit report of the inter-agency study on the region 9 regional center transfer and its impact on the region.