MinDA urges Acosta to hand over assets

As new leader assumed her post appointed by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on May 13
Embattled MinDA Secretary Maria Belen “Mabel” Acosta
Embattled MinDA Secretary Maria Belen “Mabel” AcostaDavid Ezra Francisquete/SunStar Photo

The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) has urged its embattled chairperson, Maria Belen “Mabel” Acosta, to officially hand over all belongings and assets of the agency, despite Acosta's claim of pending legal matters yet to be resolved by the Davao court.

In a one-page letter signed by Cecilia Trino, chief administrative officer, Administrative Division of MinDA, addressed to Secretary Acosta on June 7, 2024, it was stated that she must immediately return all the MinDa properties in her possession to the property unit, as a new leader has assumed the highest position, appointed by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on May 13.

“In view of the appointment of Secretary Leo Tereso A. Magno as the new MinDA Chairperson, we are respectfully requesting the turnover of all MinDA properties issued to you during your term and are still currently in your possession. Attached is the list of said properties for your reference,” the letter said. 

This also includes Acosta's Google Drive accounts, where most papers and archives were digitally stored.

Acosta, expressing her sentiments, posted her points on her Facebook account, with proof of her disabled official email address at MinDA, stating, “This is happening now at the Mindanao Development Authority. Even my official email address at MinDA has been disabled. There is still a pending court case. No final decision yet.”

Contrary to her legal claims, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 15 has already clarified through a one-page show-cause order signed by Presiding Judge Mario Duaves, stating that her quo warranto petition against Magno was reversed on June 4.

Prior to this, Acosta posted on her personal Facebook account that the present administration misunderstood what was stated in Republic Act (RA) 9996 or the MinDA Act of 2010, which expressly states in Section 7, that “he/she shall serve a term of six years upon appointment, unless removed for cause.”

“In doing so, you have caused unnecessary confusion to the public amounting to improper conduct tending to degrade the administration of justice and judicial processes of this Court,” the court order stated, explaining that her "Official Statement" was “extremely incorrect.” 

The judicial ruling also stipulated a deadline for Acosta to submit a written justification to avoid receiving a contempt citation or "severe penalties as required by the Constitution."

“Wherefore, as herein respondents, you are directed to submit within ten (10) days from receipt hereof, your written explanation under oath and show cause why you will not be cited in contempt. Within the same period, you are likewise ordered to take down such pretentious," the court order stated. 

Currently, the beleaguered leader is perplexed as to why new security guidelines have been implemented in the 14th-floor office of the agency.

“These security protocols were not there before. People normally come and go inside my office. It is after all a government office. Its purpose is to serve the people. This is not personal property. It belongs to the people. All these are happening even when they know that there is an ongoing case. If I go to my office now, will they let me in or not?” she argued.  DEF

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