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Census results reveal political quirks in Zamboanga

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The latest population figures released by the National Statistics Office (NSO) after prior clearance from President Benigno S. Aquino could help rectify errors in government or even how political subdivisions should be done.

The official census can help create new political units, but can it degrade already established units-like the barangays?
The release of the census figures can be declared official only by the President of the Philippines, as provided by Sec. 2 of Commonwealth Act No 591 approved on August 19, 1940.

Seventy years later, this law still applies, thus the Census on Population and Housing conducted by the NSO in May to June 2010 was released by Malacanang only last April 4.

The stipulation that it is only the President who can release or declare the census results as official is such since the census result is the basis for government planning and decision-making.

While the average growth rate for the entire country for 2000 to 2010 was pegged at only 1.90 percent, the City of Zamboanga posted a growth rate of 3.05, the highest rate compared to other cities and provinces in the Zamboanga Peninsula region.
On the other hand, nationwide, among the top 10 cities with the highest population growth, Zamboanga is only No. 10 with Cavite posting 5.05 percent population growth.

Here are the Top 10 provinces and cities with the highest population growth as of 2010:
Cavite (Calabarzon)-5.05
Rizal (Calabarzon)-4.77
Lapu-Lapu City(Central Visayas)-4.40
General Santos City (Region 12) -3.90
Cotabato City (Region 12)- 3.87
Caloocan (NCR)-3.39
Laguna (Calabarzon)-3.39
Las Pinas (NCR)-3.15
Mandawe City (Central Visayas)-3.09
Zamboanga City (Region IX)-3.05

The average growth rate for the Zamboanga Peninsula is 2.03 percent.

This high growth rate accounts for the near doubling of the city's population in only 20 years. The City's population in 1990 was 442,345 which rose to 807,129 in 2010, based on official 2010 census figures.

This high population growth rate could be explained by the fact that Zamboanga is considered 'safe" compared to other cities, towns and provinces in Southern Philippines.

People fleeing danger and poverty find Zamboanga attractive.
Abdullah (not his real name), drives a motorized tricycle in this city and he comes from Jolo.
"Magulo doon. Dito Zamboanga peaceful, kaya dito ako" (It's troublesome there, its peaceful in Zamboanga, that's why I am here), he said
The influx of people to Zamboanga is great. From the island provinces they come by boats. From the Zamboanga Peninsula they come by bus.
Incidentally, Social Welfare and Development Officials blame the proliferation of beggars or even mentally disturbed people in the streets to the ease by which people can go to the city.

They come and they stay forever.
An official told PNA that some naughty people in the provinces "force" mentally disturbed persons to board buses bound for Zamboanga to end up the sidewalks when they arrive in town.

The 2010 Census results could also shed light on how governance is being conducted in the countryside.
Figures show some interesting quirks in Zamboanga.

For example,the population of Zamboanga is now nearing the 900,000 mark enough to create a congressional district to enable the proper governance of the people in the city.

Results of the 2010 official census placed the population of the City at 807,129 people and this figure could have increased since two years have elapsed since that count.

For the last several years, various sectors in Zamboanga have called for the creation of a third congressional district.
The incumbents led by City Mayor Celso Lobregat have adamantly opposed this plan and their followers in the city council also support his opposition.
Congresswoman Maria Isabel Climaco proposed a bill in congress to create a third congressional district years ago, but District II Congressman Erico Basilio Fabian refused on the ground that Climaco proposed the bill without first consulting him.

The matter rest did not rest here. But the official census figure will again raise calls for the creation of a third congressional district since a district requires a population of only 250,000 residents.

Region-wide has placed the city in rank No. 3 among the three provinces and two cities in Western Mindanao.
Zamboanga del Sur, including the Pagadian City ranked No.1 in the population count with 959,685 inhabitants followed by Zamboanga del Norte, including the cities of Dapitan and Dipolog with 957,997 and the city of Zamboanga in rank No. 3.
The province of Zamboanga Sibugay has 584,685 inhabitants while the city of Isabela in Basilan Province has 97,857 people according to the latest census figures.
Population-wise for the City's 98 barangays, 12 barangays are recorded with a population of over 20,000 inhabitants.
The merging of any of these barangays with another will be enough to create a municipality since the population requirement for a municipality is only 25,000 residents.

These barangays with over 20,000 population each are; Talon Talon - 30,535; Tetuan - 29,082, Pasonanca - 27,231; Baliwasan - 27,070; San Roque - 25,532; Calarian - 25,331; Tumaga - 25,184; San Jose Gusu - 24,542; Tugbungan - 23,001; Mampang - 22,857; Ayala - 20,096; Sta Maria-21,926.
Again the local leadership under Mayor Lobregat is not keen on the idea of creating a municipality, which would call for the creation of a province.
Their mantra is "Let us stay united. Let us not divide the city" or whatever that means to them.
The local government code requires a population of 250,000 to create a province and the present population of over 800,000 is more than enough to create three provinces.

And finally, the 2010 census figures also show that several barangays in Zamboanga City failed the population requirements for them to exists as political units.

Officially, there are 98 barangays in this city. But for one reason or the other, these barangays were created, possibly, without consideration of population figures.

The Local Government Code requires that an ordinary barangay must have a , minimum population of 2,000 residents. This requirement does not apply to barangays in cities like Zamboanga.

Section 386 of the Local Government Code also provides that the minimum population requirement for a barangay in a highly urbanized city, such as the City of Zamboanga, is 5,000 inhabitants staying in a contiguous territory as certified by the NSO.
Based on the official census results, 44 of the city's barangays do not comply with the 5,000 population requirement.
This implies that the city of Zamboanga has only 54 barangays with a population each of over 5,000 people.

The population of the 44 other "barangays" range from 500 plus inhabitants to just over 4,500, not enough to qualify for a barangay in a highly urbanized city as Zamboanga.

Granting for the sake of argument that the city in not classified as a highly urbanized city, the population requirement of 2,000 residents per barangay will apply.

Still, 12 barangays will fail the requirement, with populations less than 2000 - and that leaves the city of Zamboanga with only 86 barangays and not the 98 that we have these days complete with their set of officials.

Even the four zones in the heart of the city complete with barangay officials with their offices in concrete and glass, not one of the zones have the required count of 5,000 residents to qualify these areas as barangays.
No wonder some small barangays cannot afford to pay the salaries of their barangay officials, nor can some comply with requirement considering the supply of brain power in the community.

If this can happen in Zamboanga, this can also happen in other parts of the country.
If we have what we call ghosts employees, we also have ghost barangays. Thanks to the official census report of the NSO.

by: PNA/PIA9-ZBST




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