Step down, Palace tells beleaguered MinDa chief

EXECUTIVE Secretary Lucas Bersamin has informed Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Secretary Maria Belen Acosta that Secretary Leo Tereso Magno officially assumed the role of MinDA chairperson on May 21.

In his letter, Bersamin stated that Acosta’s term had been terminated due to a loss of trust and confidence by the appointing authority.

Prior to receiving Bersamin’s letter, Acosta had maintained that she was still the rightful holder of the position.

“The position of Secretary and Chairperson of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) is not vacant. Therefore, no replacement is necessary,” she declared in a statement on May 20.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. appointed Magno as the new MinDA chair on May 13, 2024, and he took his oath of office before Bersamin on May 21.

Acosta contended that the MinDA chairmanship was never vacant, as she had neither been removed nor was facing any administrative or criminal charges.

However, Bersamin dismissed Acosta’s claim, calling it “utterly untenable for being contrary to existing laws and relevant jurisprudence.”

He explained, “Given the confidential and policy-determining nature of the Chairman’s position, the President, as the appointing authority, validly and effectively removed you due to a loss of his trust and confidence.”

Republic Act No. 9996, also known as the Mindanao Development Authority Act of 2010, stipulates that the Chairperson “shall serve a term of six years from the date of his/her appointment, unless removed for cause.” (GP)