Leadership row looms in Mindanao dev’t body

Leadership row looms in Mindanao dev’t body

DAVAO CITY—A leadership conflict is brewing at the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), the region’s main policy coordinating body, after President Marcos appointed a political ally as chair even while an incumbent is still occupying the post.

Leo Tereso Magno’s appointment as MinDA Chair was dated May 13, and indicated that he was to replace Maria Belen Acosta who was appointed to the post in 2022 by former President Rodrigo Duterte.

Last Monday, Acosta, in a statement, vowed to contest Magno’s appointment, saying the post of MinDA chair “is not officially vacant” hence “a replacement is not warranted.”


Acosta cited Section 7 of Republic Act No. 9996 or the Mindanao Development Authority Act of 2010 which sets a fixed six-year term for the agency’s chair who has a Cabinet rank and is designated as the “Philippine Signing Minister for BIMP-EAGA (Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asian Growth Area),” a subregional development alliance.


Upholding law

Acosta argued that “consistency in the enforcement of the MinDA law is vital to the stability of safeguarding the gains of peace and development in Mindanao.”

She said there was a need to “uphold the spirit and intent of the law” that created the agency.Amid Acosta’s protest, Magno took his oath on Tuesday before Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin.

Prior to his appointment, Magno was presidential assistant for Eastern Mindanao.

Acosta took on the post in 2022 from a caretaker official following the resignation of Secretary Emmanuel Piñol to give way to his senatorial bid.

Since the agency was created in 2010, Magno will be the sixth to head it. The first was lawyer Jesus Dureza, who was appointed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Dureza tendered his courtesy resignation early in the incumbency of President Benigno Aquino III, paving the way for former South Cotabato Rep. Luwalhati Antonino to take MinDA’s leadership.

Antonino was succeeded by former Moro National Liberation Front Chair Abul Khayr Alonto, who was appointed by Duterte in 2016. Piñol took over following Alonto’s death in 2019.


‘Loss of trust’

On Tuesday, in response to Acosta’s statements, Bersamin wrote her a letter, which was made public, telling her that her replacement “was effective and valid upon the assumption of your successor in office…on May 21, 2024.”

“By that event, your term of office was terminated for cause due to the loss of trust and confidence in you on the part of the appointing power,” Bersamin said.

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“Given the nature of the position of Chairman of the Mindanao Development Authority as primarily confidential and policy determining, the President as the appointing power validly and effectively removed you for cause due to loss of his trust and confidence in you,” Bersamin told Acosta.

TAGS: Mindanao

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