Friday, 04 April 2014 00:00
Quite a number of our political leaders still hold the mothballed and fallacious ancient notion that a city needs a huge territory to progress just like the British, Spanish, Roman, French, Dutch, and the Greek Empires. This colonial mindset has become the biggest stumbling block for Zamboanga City to rapidly develop and expand like her contemporary cities, Cebu and Davao, which are now officially classified and known the world over, as metro cities, while she has remained like a paralytic turtle agonizingly struggling in the race for prosperity and global competitiveness.
Contrary to the conventional belief that a city or a country requires a colossal territory in order to progress and develop, there are countries with pitifully small territories, but have attained levels of progress and development unparalleled, unequalled, and unsurpassed by those who have gargantuan territories; such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Brunei. In the Philippines, the most progressive cities include Makati with only 27.36 sq. km. of land area and Quezon City with only 16l.12 sq. km of territorial jurisdiction. Comparatively, Zamboanga City has more than 1, 475 sq. km. of land area not including the spaces among and between its 28 component islands. State wise, Singapore’s territorial size of 668 sq. km., is just about half the size of Zamboanga City’s land area, but in terms of progress and development, the latter pathetically pales in comparison. Even if we reduce the land area of Zamboanga City to 300 sq. km, it will still be about 11 times bigger than Makati City and about 2 times bigger than Quezon City, irrefutably still too large for one mayor to effectively administer.
There are speculations as to why our local political leaders, most especially the members of our legislature, have always been so reluctant to endorse the elevation of qualified barangays to municipalities through the creation of the IBP proposed Zamboanga Hermosa Province or transforming Zamboanga City into a Metropolis following the Cebu model or converting Zamboanga City into a province adopting the Basilan legislative formula so that qualified barangays can become municipalities and later on, cities. Some suspect that at the bottom of this solid opposition manifested by our local political leaders, is the fear that if these barangays will be converted to municipalities or clustered to create additional cities that will pave the way for the conversion of this highly urbanized city to a Metropolis, they will become easy prey for inclusion in the new Bangsamoro Political Entity. The other rumored reason, has something to do with the reduction of financial benefits for our politicians as a consequence of the creation of a new government unit or units within Zamboanga City’s political jurisdiction. If any of these reasons is true, how disdainfully prejudicial, anti-countryside development, and self-centered is collective position of our local politicians! Prove to us that these rumors are baseless, unfounded, and just wild speculations by spearheading the move to create new growth centers and development hubs in the rural communities and transforming the entire city into bustling and rapidly growing Metro City. It’s scandalously long overdue!!!
Let me support with more factual examples that huge territories are not a hindrance for the creation of cities and municipalities. May I present the 17 component cities of Metro Manila first and their respective land areas in square kilometers: 1. Caloocan (53.33), 2. Las Pinas (51.54), 3. Makati (27.36), 4. Malabon (15.76), 5. Mandaluyong (15.76), 6. Manila (38.55), 7. Marikina (21.5), 8. Muntinglupa (46.70), 9. Navotas (10.77), 10. Paranaque (47.69), 11. Pasay (19), 12. Pasig (3l), 13. Pateros (2.10), 14. Quezon City (161.12), 15. San Juan (5.94), 16. Taguig (47.88), 17 Valenzuela (44.58). Please note that two of the smallest cities enumerated have only 5.94 and 2.10 square kilometers of land areas, respectively. Zamboanga City has more than 1,475 sq. km. of land territory (only mainland).
Now let’s take the case of Metro Cebu cities and municipalities: 1. Carcar City ( 107.323) 2. Cebu City (315.) 3.Compostela Municipality ( 53.90), 4. Consolacion Municipality (147.20) 5. Cordoba Municipality (17.15) 6. Danao City (107.30), 7. Lapu-Lapu City (58.10) 8. Liloan Municipality (45.92) 9. Mandaue City (25.18) 9. Minglanilla Municipality (65.60) 10. Naga City ( 101.97) 11. San Fernando Municipality (69.39) 12. Talisay City(39.87).
Now if Manila, Cebu, and Davao political leaders were able to elevate their development status to Metro Cities, why can’t it be done in Zamboanga City? Do you want to make the 98 barangays your frozen delights forever? We hope that with the leadership of Beng Climaco Salazar, the development perspective will be broadly and liberally different. Making Zamboanga City a true-to-life Metropolis, will indisputably be Beng’s greatest political achievement. Right now it is pure fantasy and a mockery to call Zamboanga a Metro City in its technical definition.
By Clem M. Bascar
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