MANILA, Philippines — Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) acting chairman Carlo Dimayuga on Thursday came to the defense of “good friend” former Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor, who came under fire for an appearance at one of the agency’s events recently.
“He was there to visit me and I asked for advice,” Dimayuga said of Defensor in a press briefing at MMDA headquarters in Pasig City.
Dimayuga offered this explanation after chief presidential legal counsel Juan Ponce Enrile called out Defensor after his picture during the launch of the MMDA program for the resumption of full face-to-face classes made the rounds of social media.
Enrile, in a Facebook post, questioned if Defensor was acting as an “official, a consultant, an adviser, a factotum of some sort of MMDA” that he had participated in its event.
But Dimayuga clarified that he was the one who sought Defensor’s presence in that event, given his broad experience in government.
“Mike is a good friend of mine. Alam naman natin yung kanyang experience sa government, masyadong malalim and dito sa Balik Eskwela Program, I asked for his advice. Bumisita lang po siya doon,” he added.
(Mike is a good friend of mine. We all know that he has a very deep experience in the government and I asked for his advice for this Balik Eskwela Program. Unfortunately, he only visited there.)
Dimayuga also clarified that Defensor is not a part of MMDA.
Defensor, in a statement on Thursday, confirmed Dimayuga’s statements.
“I am not an official nor a consultant of MMDA as this is a violation of law in my one year prohibition,” Defensor said. “I do not hold office there nor do I order people around.”
“As a friend of Chairman Engr. Carlo Dimayuga and as a former Chief of Staff of the President, I was asked to help out in the MMDA effort since this will be the first time after two years that we will open our schools,” Defensor said.
Defensor said it was only one meeting where his assistance was sought to help the government effort to ensure the success of our traffic response as full face to face classes loom.
“I explained this to Manong Johnny and he also explained to me his role in protecting the President. We are in agreement,” he continued.
He said he will continue to help President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. “in my private capacity and when I am asked to do so.”
On Wednesday, Enrile exhorted government officials to be careful about showing “an arrogance of power.”
“I suggest we should be very careful in not carelessly showing an arrogance of power in our behavior as public persons, especially if we are somewhat identified with the current regime. Please, ladies and gentlemen be careful! The public is watching,” the nonagenarian official, widely considered a legal luminary of his time, said.
“If you continue with that practice, I assure you, you will be clashing with my office,” he added.
To recall, Defensor ran for mayor in Quezon City in the May polls but lost by a wide margin — more than 230,000 votes — to reelectionist Mayor Joy Belmonte.