Let's first talk about the history surrounding the making of Pagadian as the new regional center of the Zamboanga Peninsula Region, formerly also known as Western Mindanao. It all started with Executive Order No. 429, series of 1990, which reorganized the administrative regions in Mindanao to guarantee the effect delivery of the field services of government agencies by taking into consideration the formation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, where Section 1 of EO 429 reorganized Region IX and designated the Cities of Pagadian, as regional center and  Zamboanga City as industrial center.
In 2004, Memorandum Circular 75 was issued directing all regional offices to transfer to Pagadian City as soon as practicable except the DTI, DOLE and the Tourism Department and since 1990, out of the 121 regional offices, only 32 have fully transferred and 6 established satellite offices.
So they say, full transfer and establishment of satellite offices, that in truth and in fact, only satellite offices were here, the regional directors have been holding office in Zamboanga City, except for the Maranao Regional Directors as they find Lanao del Sur and Norte, their homes, nearer in Pagadian than in Zamboanga. One even made a suggestion, why not make all regional directors from the Maranao tribe of Lanao so every director will surely transfer to the city.
What positive effects would being regional center bring to the city? Obviously, more money for the city as more people will come in and transact business with the regional offices, more infrastructure from the different regional line agencies and much more. It would definitely boost the paying capacity of the Pagadian City government of all its loans, the Agora Public Market and the Commercial Center (C3) to name those that take the largest chunks.
Negative impacts would be mostly the displacement of workers from Zamboanga City who are to transfer to Pagadian due to their works. Crime rate will also soar due to the influx of people and prices of commodities tend to increase due to the demand. All of these were felt by many, and now being regional center is becoming an opportunity lost due to various reasons which we shall endeavor to name. Reactions are most welcome, should there be any.
It all started with the complaint from many of the regional offices, the employees starting from the economic downhill they have to suffer due to their displacement and whether we like it or not, is true. The idea of the regional center transfer started with Cory Aquino but was shelved and was reactivated by Ramos but did not also push through, Erap did not bother to take a look at it but Arroyo was different. She was not happy when she lost her Presidential bid in Zamboanga City, Erap got a deafening support, Nino Muhlach also brought her ire when the former child star went to the GMA Headquarters in Zamboanga City and made a scene.
So, when the little lady became President, she insisted on the previous Executive Orders made by her predecessors and pushed for its implementation making Pagadian the regional center of Western Mindanao, now the Zamboanga Peninsula despite of the protests made which all fell on deaf ears.
Now, it is Noy's turn and he did a slow but sure way of returning the center to Zamboanga City. He issued Memorandum Circular 11 placing a moratorium on the transfer, directing all those that have already transferred to stay and those that have not, remain in Zamboanga City. With the issuance of said MC, it is obvious that indeed not all agencies have transferred despite of the previous threats of the mayor of Pagadian of suing them for not heeding the directive of Malacanang. Now, the case is moot and academic.
The MC issued by the Palace provides that "All departments, bureaus and other government agencies are enjoined to suspend the transfer of their offices in Region IX from Zamboanga City to Pagadian City pending the study on the matter and consultations with relevant stakeholders to be jointly conducted by the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Civil Service Commission (CSC), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM)." Again, the PMS, DILG, CSC, NEDA and DBM will conduct a consultation with the stakeholders to study on the effects of the transfer, note that all of these offices have not fully transferred to Pagadian specially the Civil Service Commission who ironically investigates on violators of civil service laws. Talking about good faith and "moral ascendancy". Results of the study and consultations should be submitted within 30 days after the issuance of the memo. The results do not require a debate as it is obvious. It will recommend the scrapping of the dream of the city of Pagadian from being the regional center, and it is what we deserve, said the regional office employees. 
Reports had it that before the memo was made, a delegation from Zamboanga City went to the Office of the President appealing for the scrapping of the executive order as it has affected a lot of families in Zamboanga and the business sector. The delegation included their mayor, their congressional representatives, businessmen, the bishop and some nuns. Remember the Carmelite nuns where Noynoy had a retreat before he decided to run for President? They were also the same nuns where Cory also seek refuge during her days. Now, tell me if that delegation is not as strong as typhoon Ondoy. Not to forget, Mar Roxas is VERY close to the officials of the Zamboanga City, right Celso and Beng? 
Reports were heard that the transfer should have been in its healing and acceptance stage but the city allegedly never made true its promise, the subsidy for the offices who transferred from the city government was not done fully, the bus provided for the transport of the employees going to and from Zamboanga City on weekends was like a bus for construction workers and athletes going to a regional sports meet,  there were no available buildings for the offices to occupy and there were scrupulous resident building owners who ask unreasonable rents for those offices who wish to occupy their buildings, the regional center area which was promised was never done to cater to the needs of the offices and a lot more dalmatians, too many spots that indeed such plans should fail.
Reports from the NEDA also said that there was a download of 200 Million to an LGU, we are not sure though, if it was indeed the Provincial Government that had it, but the NEDA said there was for the needs of the regional center offices. But never have we heard that there were buildings constructed for offices, roads concreted leading to where these offices are constructed, water service facilities improved and answering the birth pains of the new regional center.
In short, all of the offices were left behind, their needs not fully given time and attention, thus, supported by other factors, the center was given this treatment by the Office of the President.
Let's just accept the fact that we are not prepared for the challenge. The local government has its hands on other matters, the C3 and other issues, our crime rate is bad, our local economy is not that open to prospective investors, only to a chosen few, we do not have the infrastructure to boast and house the offices, the DENR occupies a building without water that there was one time we met a man from the DENR on an office day bringing a pack and when asked where he was going, he said, to Springland to take a bath with a sigh. Other offices have similar and other complaints.
Why should we force the obvious? Our airport do not have daily flights to make good Randy David's theory of periphery that regional offices need constant contact with Imperial Manila thus the need for daily flights. We do not have a working port that caters to the needs of investors and lowly itinerants. We have a lot to aspire for to make good our being host as regional center.
Why do we have to wish for other problems when our locality still has various problems in their hands? We do not even have stable water supply for the residents, our road get flooded when it rains due to poor drainage systems. I suggest we first address our own problems and put in place all what is needed for the transfer which I am certain we will be losing it, before we boast of it. The past years would have been the chance. The local budgets should have been made to address the needs of the offices. The local honchos should have gathered the punong barangays, explained to them that we hold on and would not expect assistance from the LGU in order for the budgets to be earmarked for the basic needs of the regional offices, it may not be a direct benefit to the barangays, indirectly it could. It could have prevented this to happen as the regional offices' concerns who have been at least addressed. But it seems that it may be too late. 
Now, the city officials are asking other provinces to help them convince Noy Aquino to reconsider the plan of reverting the center back to Zamboanga City. Other proviinces like that where the Jalosjoses are kings? Don't they know the close filial relations of the Jalosjoses to the Lobregats? Dream on. Our source said that instead of us being regional center, we will instead be the industrial center, not bad. But being industrial center, though it would bring jobs to people would require a secure and peaceful business conducive area. The question is, are we?
I personally do not have qualms of the thought of Pagadian being regional center, just make the city prepared and not an embarrassment to the visitors. There is indeed much more to be done, a stroke of a pen should not suffice to fight it out and retain our being the regional center, not even mere lip service.
So, quo vadis Pagadian? ACT NOW BEFORE WE LOSE MORE. Peace!


Anonymous said...

Your observation on the matter is very much laudable! I hope Pagadian will prosper on its own merits of good governance. Good fortunes comes to those who honestly toil the soil...

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