ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/17 January) – A group of elected officials from the three Zamboanga provinces which together with Zamboanga City compose Region 9, as well as those of Misamis Occidental in Region 10 reportedly wants the two regions reorganized by moving Misamis Occidental to Region 9 or what is presently known as the Zamboanga Peninsula.
Curiously, however, it was former Zamboanga del Norte first district Congressman Romeo Jalosjos who revealed the plan to reconfigure the two regions Monday over Radio Mindanao Network-Zamboanga.
Jalosjos said that if the plan succeeds, the reconfigured region will be known as the Western Peninsula.
He said that except those from Zamboanga del Sur the members of the group “would like to drop the word Zamboanga” as they wanted to have distinct identities.
He explained that the word Zamboanga “is deceiving and confusing a lot of people” who are from the other parts of the country.
“They don’t know how to distinguish Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga del Norte,” he added.
Jalosjos said Zamboanga Sibugay may just carry the name Sibugay and Zamboanga del Norte Zanorte.
He said the governors and nine congressmen of the four provinces agreed on the decision in a recent meeting. He did not disclose the exact date of the meeting except to say that it lasted five hours and took place at the family-owned Dakak Beach Resort in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte.
Jalosjos said the primary purpose of the reconfiguration is to enhance the economic development, peace and order, and tourism industry of the four provinces.
He said they would come up with a development master plan for the four provinces with each province having its own development goals.
“We can come up with one plan dividing the objective and specific target for each of the provinces,” he said, adding “Zamboanga del Norte may target one objective, Zamboanga del Sur may do it, Misamis Occidental can do the same, and Zamboanga Sibugay can have its own.”
The former lawmaker said the four provinces will help each other to realize their respective goals.
He said Misamis Occidental has joined the three Zamboanga provinces in the proposed reconfiguration since it strategically and geographically belongs to Region 9 and not to Region 10 whose regional center is located in Cagayan de Oro City.
“As of now they are having problems because their regional center is in Cagayan de Oro and therefore if any of them from their province would like to visit the regional center, they have to cross Region 12, which is Lanao [del Norte],” he explained.
Lanao del Norte belongs to Region 10.
Misamis Occidental borders Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur to the west and is separated from Lano del Norte by Panguil Bay to the south and from Misamis Oriental by Iligan Bay.
Jalosjos said Zamboanga City, which is a chartered city, can opt to remain with the “Western Peninsula” but that its elected officials and people would have to decide.
He said there was no politics behind the meeting as there are no preconditions for those who wanted to join the proposed Western Peninsula.
He said they will invite the officials of Zamboanga City to their succeeding meetings. (MindaNews)