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Zamboanga must expand for the countryside to develop


Zamboanga is bigger than Singapore, Hong Kong and twice bigger than Metro Manila in land area and territorial coverage. Yet for the last 70 years or so since its charter, it is still made up of barangays (villages) instead of municipalities and cities due her stunted political as well as economic growth.

As resident and stakeholder, we cannot help but ask why is it so? It seems that despite the many brilliant and capable leaders we have in the city’s political echelon, no one have taken the initiative and willingness to pursue a bold step of making Zamboanga politically dispersed but economically competitive with neighbors like Davao, General Santos, Cagayan de Oro, the Cotabato corridors and Cebu among her contemporaries in Mindanao and Visayas.

For those among us who have travelled outside the city and saw the fast growth and development of other places in the country as well as abroad, one cannot help but see the big difference of how absence of comprehensive development planning and proper utilization of vast land areas have stagnated us compared to areas who fast tracked their expansion and exercised the right approach toward urbanization.

However, expansion and urbanization will not happen without the vision,  strong and unselfish political will of the leaders in the city accepting the challenge that total transformation of rural countryside (barangays) is needed, in fact long overdue which requires their support and push to make it happen.  Zamboanga with all the 98 barangays had remained rural for so long because there is too much concentration of political dispensation that is not shared but controlled only by a few.

When political power is controlled, there is no growth and development to speak of. When only one mans and the political bodies like the City Council and the barangay heads he controls always tow his line even if what he wants done is only for selfish interest and not the general welfare,  there is nothing that can make Zamboanga economically progressive.  The people especially those in the barangays will continue to suffer and be denied of shared political governance where they can participate actively and collectively for their own benefit.

The inevitable consequence of such selfishness is unhealthy under the principle of effective management and public administration. The span of control is abused since administrators and political leaders refuse to open doors allowing the barangays to achieve a status of shared leadership becoming independent political units managing and governing their own municipality and exercise complete political emancipation no longer controlled and dictated on what is best and suitable for them to grow and also develop.

However, the situation is not hopeless if those in the barangays assert their rights since they are the ones who are stakeholders and beneficiaries of how communities should be, peaceful and progressive. The people in the barangays should not be timid and passive but demand from the city leaders (mayor, councilors and two representatives) to support and push for city’s expansion and empowerment of the countryside through conversion of qualified barangays to municipalities and creation of a third congressional district in Zamboanga because it so provided under the Local Government Code of 1991 permissible under the law.  The people in the barangays are the BOSS not those who control politics in City Hall and Congress.

By Nung Ajihil

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