New MinDa chief takes post as incumbent refuses to step down

New MinDa chief takes post on Monday as incumbent refuses to step down

New Minda chief takes post on Monday as incumbent refuses to step down

Newly appointed MinDa Sec. Leo Tesoro Magno (left) and current MinDa Sec. Maria Belen Acosta. —Inquirer photo/Germelina Lacorte

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDa) office here will begin its workweek this Monday with two heads at its helm, after the current chief, Secretary Maria Belen Acosta, continued to refuse to step down despite the assumption of the newly appointed Secretary Leo Tereso Magno.

Acosta told reporters she filed a quo warranto case in a Davao court last week, questioning the legitimacy of the appointment of a new MinDa chair while she was still serving her term.


READ: Leadership row looms in Mindanao dev’t body


“I know that the law is on my side because RA (Republic Act) 9996 is very clear on the agency’s mandate and on the chairperson’s term,” she said, referring to the law that created MinDa, which provides for a six-year term for the MinDa chair unless “removed for a cause.”

RA 9996 was created in 2010 to promote, coordinate and facilitate the active and extensive participation of all sectors to affect the socioeconomic development of Mindanao.

Acosta said that RA 9996 institutionalized MinDa “precisely to shield [the office] from arbitrary movements and political whims, thus promoting consistency, regularity and sustainability,” she said.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., on May 13, appointed Magno, a political ally, to the post of MinDa chair to replace Acosta, who was appointed to the post in 2022 by former President Rodrigo Duterte.

No stopping mandate

“It is very unfortunate that at the moment, MinDa has two secretaries. Why is that? Because the post is not vacant … how can you replace me when I am still here working?” Acosta asked.

Magno, who sought a briefing with section heads of MinDa on the 10th floor of Pryce Tower here on Friday, while Acosta was holding office on the 14th floor of the building, said he respected Acosta’s right to seek legal remedies to question his appointment.


“I respect her right but in the same manner, I have an oath to start to function as MinDa chair,” he said.

He did not reply when asked if he would still want to meet with Acosta after his attempt to speak to her on May 17 failed. Acosta said she was about to board the plane when Magno called on May 17 but she later told reporters here that Magno could have called her before he accepted the appointment, not after.

Magno said he already submitted his papers to the MinDa office on Thursday and was briefed by undersecretaries and heads of different departments on Friday. “I have to give credit to Secretary Acosta, MinDa has a functioning office, we promise to start on Monday, I will be back on Monday,” Magno said

Marcos supporter?

Acosta also said that President Marcos may not have known her personal circumstances, but they had supported him when he ran for president with Sara Duterte as running mate in the last elections. “We are part of his Uniteam, my daughter who ran for councilor ran under the Uniteam ticket,” she said.

She reiterated that she had been performing her job well, but she had never received any prior memorandum that the President was dissatisfied with her performance.

Last Tuesday, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin wrote Acosta a letter, telling her that her term of office was “terminated for a cause due to the loss of trust and confidence in you on the part of the appointing power” and that her replacement was to assume office by May 21.

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Acosta, however, said she was not facing any administrative or civil case from any court that could warrant her removal. In fact, she said, the Commission on Audit (COA) just rendered an “unmodified opinion” on MinDa’s audit report for calendar years 2022 and 2023, which, she added, was “the highest rating that COA can give.”

TAGS: Mindanao Development Authority, quo warranto

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