Isabela City is the business center and capital of the Island province of Basilan, with its islets lies in the midst of the waters of the Celebes Sea, the Moro Gulf and the Sulu Sea, situated at the tip of the Zamboanga Peninsula.

In the ancient times, this beautiful island province was called “TAGUIMA”, while Isabela was referred to by its ethnic groups (the Yakans, Samal Bangingih, Badjaos and Tausogs) as “PASANGAN”, which name it still holds among the natives. In 1844 the Spaniards occupied “Pasangan”, and in July of the following year was named Isabela, in honor of Queen Isabel II of Spain by Don Ramon Lubo, Marine Chief of Zamboanga and Don Catyetano Suarez de Fiqueroa, Governor of the District.

During the Spanish regime and the American occupation, Basilan was part of the Zamboanga Province, which then also included the Province of Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga del Norte. In 1937, the City of Zamboanga brought into existence and made Basilan as part of the newly created City.

On July 1, 1948 by virtue of Republic Act No. 288, sponsored by then Congressman Juan S. Alano, Basilan island became a chartered City, separating it from City of Zamboanga, with three Districts, namely – Isabela, Lamitan and Maluso. Mayor Nicasio Valderoza was the first appointed  City Mayor, who served until December 31, 1953, when he retire, Leroy S. Brown took his oath as the next appointive Mayor of the  City, who later became the first and the last elective Mayor of the City of Basilan.

On December 27, 1973, President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 356 creating Basilan Province. The Province had three Municipalities: Lamitan, Maluso and Isabela, the latter being its capital. Basilan City which previously had an area of about 1,359 square kilometers was left with an area of barely one square kilometer.

On December 2, 1974, P.D. 593 was issued amending P.D. 356 and increasing the area of Basilan Province to about 3 square kilometers and creating ten municipalities to comprise the province – Isabela, Lamitan, Maluso, Lantawan, Sumisip, Tipo-Tipo,Tuburan, Tapiantana, Malamawi and Pilas.

On December 11, 1975, Presidential Decree No. 840 was issued by President Marcos reducing the number of municipalities comprising the province from ten to seven, namely: Isabela, Lamitan, Maluso, Lantawan, Sumisip, Tipo-Tipo and Tuburan. The former City of Basilan and the Municipality of Malamawi were absorbed by the Municipality of Isabela with an area of about 22,373 hectares.

On December 12, 1975, Atty. Ricardo G. Mon, number one Councilor of the defunct City of Basilan, took his oath of office as Mayor of the Isabela Municipality before regional Commissioner Rear Admiral M. Espaldon in Zamboanga City. On January 1, 1976, Atty. Mon, officially assumed as Mayor of the Municipality of Isabela.

On March 5, 2001 Republic Act No. 9023 “An Act Converting the Municipality of Isabela, Province of Basilan into a component city to be known as the City of Isabela” was signed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.  Then on April 25, 2001 the Isabeleños ratified Isabela City.

Isabela started as a 5th class city in 2001 after its ratification, then by virtue of DOF Order No. 23-08 dated of July 29, 2008, the city became a 4th class city.

The following persons served as Mayors under this charter:


Hon. Ricardo G. Mon                                                         1975-1980                        


Hon. Alvin G. Dans                                                      1980-1986
Hon. Hermino M. Montebon, OIC                                                     1986-1988*
Hon. Benjamin R. Valencia 1988-1991
Hon. Leonardo A. Pioquinto
Hon. Luis R. Biel II
Hon. Rodolfo Y. Tan
Hon. Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar



Mayor Akbar Secures Seat Against Opponent

 Incumbent and Mayor-elect Hon. Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar shows her Certificate  of Proclamation to supporters gaining a sounding victory of 28,775 votes against rivals. With her are from left Councilors elect Jeromy L. Casas, Al-Qaid J. Akbar, ABC President Reybert P. Santos and mother Cynthia P. Santos. Isabela City Mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar has secured her last term as the Chief Executive of Isabela City against her opponents in the 2013 National, Local and Autonomous Region In Muslim Mindanao Elections.

Garnering a total vote of 28,775 against her closest rival with a margin from 9,288 votes for Allan Ritchie B. Biel, Mayor Akbar will be serving her last term.

A former SK Chairman, Mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar was the wife of the late Basilan Congressman Wahab M. Akbar and the first Lady Chief Executive in the City.

In the Councilor slate, former SK Federation President of this City, Jashim Idarus Tiplani topped the seat with a total vote of 22,212, followed by Former SK Chairman and Barangay Chairman of  Begang Jeromy L. Casas.

Al-Qaid J. Akbar,  a neophyte candidate and the son of Governor Jum J. Akbar landed on the third place for the position of Councilor, while Ma. Jenessa Santos-Tubongbanua got the fifth place.Proclamation: Councilors elect from left Al-Qaid J. Akbar, Nida P. Dans, Taib A. Alejo, incumbent and Vice-Mayor elect Abdulbaki J. Ajibon, Al Haj., Acting Election Officer Vilma L. Manalastas, Councilors elect Placido Jilhani, Mashur Ismael and Jashim I. Tiplani signify victory after their proclamation at the SP Office, this City.

Ma. Jenessa Santos-Tubong banua was the former Executive Assistant V of the City Government of Isabela and will be serving her first term as City Councilor. She is the sister of Mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar.

Councilors Moumar L. Muarip, Mashur Ismael, Abner S. Rodriguez, Basilan First District Board Member Placido Jilhani, Councilor Taib A. Alejo and Former Councilor and Commissioner on Women for Mindanao Nida P. Dans, respectively, are also elected for the seat of City Council.

Incumbent Vice-Mayor Abdulbaki J. Ajibon retained his second term with 19,532 votes.



Mayor Akbar Swifts Victory

Mayor Akbar shows her Certificate of Canvass and Proclamation to her supporters after the proclamation.

Mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar swifts victory in the 2010 National and Local Elections held last May 10, 2010 scoring 22,996 votes compared to his closes rival, Allan Ritchie B. Biel who only garnered 7,200 votes.

Mayor Akbar bid her second term as the City Mayor of Isabela, likewise held her party the most elected councilors which left a single slot out of her ten bets in the party.

Mayor Akbar who started her political career as Sangguniang Kabataan Chairman ran in her first term to the Mayoralty of Isabela City  in 2007 under the banner of her late husband, former Congressman and Governor of the Province, Ustadz Wahab M. Akbar.

Mayor Akbar garnering the largest margin over her rival candidates is the first in the history of Isabela political exercises where more than 64% of the 36, 128 of the total cast votes chose her.

In the Vice-Mayoralty contest, Hon. Abdulbaki J. Ajibon, a Barangay Chairman of Tabuk triumphed over the position with 14, 126 votes defeating the incumbent Vice-Mayor of Isabela, Luis R. Biel VI who scored with total votes of 13, 861.

The elected councilors are Taib A. Alejo, Moumar L. Muarip, Javier C. Kunting, Susan B. Yu, Bartolome B. Salomom, Jeromy L. Casas, Jacinto S. Guevara, James Abner S. Rodriguez, Mashur H. Ismael and Moh. Noore H. Ladjagais.

Like Hon. Ajibun, Councilors Casas, Ismael and Ladjagais are members of the Liga ng Mga Barangay in the City of Isabela.


*    Appointed as OIC after the 1986 People Power EDSA Revolution
**  On October 1991, by virtue of the Supreme Court decison, Leonardo Pioquinto was proclaimed winner in the 1998     election. He won in the 1992 and 1995 elections.
***Assumed as Mayor on March 3, 2006 after the assassination of Mayor Luis R. Biel II