Palace halts regional transfer

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Monday, December 27, 2010


MALACAÑANG issued a 30-day moratorium on the transfer of the regional offices of all departments and agencies from Zamboanga City to Pagadian City, the capital of Zamboanga del Sur province, a lawmaker said.

House Deputy Speaker for Mindanao and second district Rep. Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said the moratorium, issued through Memorandum Circular (MC) 11, was signed last December 22 by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa by the authority of President Benigno Simeon Aquino, III.

Salazar said Section 1 of MC 11 directs all departments, bureaus, and other government agencies to suspend the transfer of their regional offices in Western Mindanao from Zamboanga City to Pagadian City, pending the study on the matter and consultations with relevant stakeholders to be jointly conducted by five government agencies.

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The government offices tasked to conduct the study are the Presidential Management Staff, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Civil Service Commission, National Economic and Development Authority, and the Department of Budget and Management.

Salazar said the five government agencies are directed to submit a comprehensive report and recommendations to President Aquino within 30 working days after the issuance of the memorandum circular which took effect last December 22.

Salazar noted that the legal basis for the regional transfer was Executive Order (EO) 429 issued on October 12, 1990 by former President Corazon Aquino, which provided for the reorganization of the administrative regions in Mindanao.

The EO 429 declared Pagadian City as the regional center of Western Mindanao with the inclusion of Lanao del Norte and Misamis Occidental in the region.

However, President Fidel Ramos issued Executive Order 325, which reorganized the Regional Development Councils (RDCs), and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) declared Zamboanga City as the regional center in Western Mindanao.

In 2001, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Executive Order 36, which returned the two provinces and four cities back to Northern Mindanao earlier reorganized to Western Mindanao but was silent on the issue of regional government centers.

In 2004, Memorandum Circular 75 signed by former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita was released and directed the transfer of the regional center from Zamboanga City to Pagadian City citing Section 1 of EO 429 as its legal basis.

The Pagadian Regional Center Management and Coordinating Office (PRCMCO) reported that out of the 121 regional offices of national government agencies, only 32 have fully transferred to Pagadian City, 12 agencies have partially transferred, while six have only established satellite offices.

Salazar said the moratorium under Memorandum Circular 11 directs the suspension of the regional transfer and maintains a status quo, “meaning the regional offices that are already in Pagadian City shall continue to operate thereat.”

Salazar welcomes the creation of the body that will study and provide a comprehensive report to President Aquino on the issue of the regional transfer.

“There is a need to evaluate the transfer and ask whether the government resources that we have invested are worth every penny and if indeed government services are more accessible and efficiently delivered,” she said.

The woman lawmaker said she trusts the wisdom of President Aquino in addressing the plight of more than 4,000 families of government employees who are affected by the transfer of the regional offices.

Salazar laid emphasis that there is a necessity to put more weight on the need to improve the quality, delivery, and accessibility of government services which were underlying principles of EO 429.

The long-standing issues of the tremendous increase in financial cost, social displacement, low morale of employees, difficulty of transportation, insufficient facilities, poor living conditions, and higher operating expenses brought about by the transfer have burdened government offices and employees so much, Salazar said. (Bong Garcia)

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