Mayor Beng Climaco was visibly elated to announce yesterday that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD) has finally acceded to her consistent pleadings for the national government to purchase the properties, measuring 619,606 kilometers or 71.96 hectares, of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) situated in Barangay Cabatangan, this city.
Climaco made the announcement after she received a text message at 1:28 a.m. yesterday from National Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, saying: “PRRD said government will buy Cabatangan.”
She said Sec. Lorenzana informed her via text message about the meeting he had with House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Floor Leader Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas together with Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., discussing the Cabatangan issue.
“This is a very positive news for us,” the mayor said, considering that in all her past and recent meetings with President Duterte and even with Sec. Lorenzana “the Cabatangan properties, the city’s non-inclusion in BBL and the return of the regional center were among the issues we constantly lobbied for.”
At one point, Duterte had assured Climaco that Zamboanga City will not be part of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). “Dili mo apil ana,” (You are not part of it) the President said in Visayan dialect.
Climaco said she always keeps her communication line with Sec. Lorenzana open for constant follow-ups of the issues and concerns affecting Zamboanga City.
To recall, on May 22, 2018, Climaco handed over to Sec. Lorenzana a letter, containing the list of ARMM properties located in Cabatangan to include the map and the corresponding photocopies of Titles of the properties.
In the said letter, the mayor informed the DND secretary that the City Government of Zamboanga had already manifested its interest to acquire the ARMM properties in Cabatangan,
Situated with those parcels of land are buildings and structures of national government agencies like the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DoH) Training Centers, Commission on Audit (COA) Regional Office 9, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Regional Office 9, the Population Commission Training Center, the National Telecommunications Commission, the Philippine Army Brigade, the Philippine Marines and the Philippine Navy Barracks, among others.
“It is very important that before the passage of the BBL, these parcels of land be ceded and transferred to the national government under the Expanded ARMM Law. In turn, the City of Zamboanga is very willing and able to purchase the same from the national government,” Climaco stressed in her letter to Lorenzana.
She cited Section 1, Article 17 (Transitory Provisions) of RA 9054 or the Expanded ARMM Law, which states “The land and permanent buildings owned, controlled, administered or in possession of the ARMM located in provinces and cities, which do not vote favorably for inclusions of their respective areas in ARMM, shall be purchased by the national government. In turn, the national government shall, from its acquisition of said land and permanent buildings or strictures, sell, transfer and convey the said properties in favor the local government unit having territorial jurisdiction thereover, and willing to purchase said land and buildings or structures or portions thereof.”
“These parcels of land,” the mayor continued, “can be transformed into a government center to cater to the office needs of local and national government agencies and headquarters of military installations situated therein.”-(Vic Larato)