Historically, Zamboanga was the capital of the Moro Province, which comprised of five (5) districts, namely: Cotabato, Davao, Sulu, Lanao and Zamboanga. In 1940, these districts became individual provinces. Zamboanga City became the capital of the Zamboanga Province. Soon after the Second World War, the provincial capital was transferred to Dipolog. After that, Molave was created as the provincial capital of the Province of Zamboanga by virtue of RA 268 dated June 16, 1948.

Founding Year

Zamboanga del Sur was carved out from the former Zamboanga Province that encompassed the entire peninsula in Southwestern Mindanao on September 17, 1952 by virtue of RA 711. As the 52nd province of the Republic, it originally consisted of 11 towns, which later expanded into 42 municipalities and one city-Pagadian, its capital.

Etymology and Other Historical Features

The name Zamboanga was derived from the Malay word "Jambangan", meaning a pot or place of flowers. The original inhabitants of the Zamboanga peninsula were the Subanons, who settled along the riverbanks. The next group of settlers to arrive was Muslim migrants from the neighboring provinces. The Maguindanaoans and Kalibugans were farmers; the Tausugs, Samals, and Badjaos were fishermen; and the Maranaos were traders and artisans.

There was an exodus of migrants from nearby provinces. Accordingly, most of them came from the Visayas, Cebu, Bohol, Negros, and Siquijor. Together with the original settlers, these pioneers helped develop Zamboanga del Sur into the abundant and currently diverse province that it is.

City & Municipalities

Prior to 2001, the province was sub-divided into three (3) congressional districts with 11 municipalities and one (1) city in the first, 15 municipalities in the second, and 16 towns in the third. In 1990, Executive Order 429 reorganized the administrative set-up of Region IX and identified Pagadian City as the new regional center.

Political developments in February 2001 saw another major change in the territorial jurisdiction of Zamboanga del Sur. Its inhabitants voted to create a new province out of the Third Congressional District-name the Zamboanga Sibugay Province. RA 8973 embodies the legal creation of the said province. The mother province is now left with 26 municipalities and one city with 681 barangays.

Margosatubig and Pagadian are the oldest municipalities created on December 23, 1936. The municipalities of Aurora and Labangan were taken from Pagadian in 1942 and 1949, respectively before the latter become a city on June 21, 1969. The municipality of Molave was created in 1948. 10 municipalities were added in the 1950’s six (6) in 1960’s, three (3) in 1970’s, two (2) in the 80’s and the latest add-ons were the municipalities of Tigbao and Guipos in 1991.

Political/Administrative Structures

The political/administrative structure of the Provincial Government of Zamboanga del Sur is composed of the Executive, Legislative, and the bureaucratic departments. Each component has its own head but all are under the overall power, supervision, and authority of the Provincial Governor. The incumbent Provincial Governor is Hon. Antonio H. Cerilles.

The Executive Department is composed of the Office of the Provincial Governor. Directly his office is the Office of the Provincial Administrator. The Provincial Administrator as the name implies exercises administrative supervision over all offices and departments under the Office of the Provincial Governor. There are about fourteen (14) administrative departments under the Office of the Provincial Governor each of which has its own department head. The Provincial Administrator may also undertake other tasks assigned to him or ordered by the Provincial Governor.

The Legislative Department is denominated as the "Sangguniang Panlalawigan" as provided for by RA 7160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code. The Sangguniang Panlalawigan is composed of the Vice Governor as its head with ten (10) regular members coming from the two Congressional Districts of the Province. Accordingly, five (5) members are elected from the 1st Congressional District covering elven (11) municipalities, namely; Josefina, Mahayag, Dumingag, Molave, Tambulig, Aurora, Midsalip, Sominot, Ramon Magsaysay, Tukuran, Labangan, and the City of Pagadian.

Likewise, five (5) regular members from the 2nd Congressional District covering fifteen (15) municipalities namely; Dumalinao, Guipos, San Miguel,Lapuyan,Margosatubig, San Pablo, Dinas, Dimataling, Pitogo, Vincenzo Sagun, Tigbao, Lakewood, Bayog, Kumalarang, and Tabina. In addition, two sectoralRerpresentatives each from the Association of Barangay Councils and the League of Councilors are added to make a total of twelve (12) members in the SangguniangPanlalawigan.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan exercises legislative power and as such enact ordinances, pass resolutions, review and act on municipal ordinances submitted for review, investigate and conduct hearings in aid of legislation, and in appropriate cases act as quasi-judicial tribunal in administrative cases filed before it. The Sangguniang Panlalawigan also provides legislative support to the Provincial Governor where the former’s authority is required, like the signing of contracts by the Provincial Governor in behalf of the Provincial Government.

The various administrative departments with the Provincial Governor at the helm actually run the day-to-day affairs of the Provincial Government. Each department has its own scope of functions or area of specialization to ensure that no duplication or overlapping of functions will be done. The administrative departments include the Offices of the Provincial Administrator, Legal, General Services, Accountant, Human Resource Management, Budget, Planning and Development Office, Integrated Provincial Health Social Welfare, Veterinary, Agriculture, Treasurer, Assessor, Provincial Engineer, and such other department or office that the Provincial Government may hereafter create.

The political structure of the Provincial Government consists of the Provincial Governor as head with the Vice Governor and Board Members as component parts. Below the Provincial Government is the City and Municipal Government over which the former exercises authority and supervision. The actual exercise of power over the said local government units is done by the Provincial Governor. Indirectly, it may also be said that the Provincial Government also exercise supervision over the barangay local government units in as much as the latter function within the territorial jurisdiction of the Provincial Government.

Further, there is the lateral connection between the Provincial Government and the House of Representatives where the latter extends its congressional functions in the two Congressional Districts of the Province as mentioned above. It should be noted that the present set-up places the Governor as the over-all head of the province notwithstanding the presence of the two Representatives of Congress. This is obvious because the job of Congressman is limited only to law-making and, secondly, they are only representing some part and parcel of the territory of the Province.