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PRESIDENTIAL PREROGATIVE AND THE RULE OF LAW IN MINDA’S LEADERSHIP CHANGES

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THE recent leadership change within the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), orchestrated by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., has sparked a notable discussion on the nature of executive authority and its boundaries.

The decision to appoint Secretary Leo Tereso Magno, replacing Maria Belen Acosta, underscores the President’s legal right and mandate to ensure that critical positions are filled by individuals who have his complete trust and confidence.

The role of the MinDA chairperson is undeniably significant, encompassing confidential and policy-determining responsibilities that directly impact the development trajectory of Mindanao. This high level of responsibility necessitates a leader who aligns closely with the President’s vision and commands his unwavering confidence.



According to Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, Acosta’s removal was precipitated by a “loss of trust and confidence,” a justification that, while seemingly abstract, is firmly rooted in the principles of executive governance.

Critics might argue that the sudden nature of such transitions can be unsettling and potentially disruptive.

Acosta herself contested the change, asserting that her term was not legally over and that her removal lacked a substantive cause, as she faced no administrative or criminal charges.

However, this perspective overlooks a fundamental aspect of public service leadership: the discretionary power vested in the appointing authority.

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

The phrase “unless removed for cause” encompasses more than just legal or administrative malfeasance; it also includes the broader and equally critical concept of trust. In positions of high policy influence, the President must be able to rely on his appointees implicitly. Loss of this trust, as articulated by Bersamin, is a valid and legal ground for removal under the existing legal framework and relevant jurisprudence.



The President’s mandate to make such appointments is not only legal but necessary for effective governance.

Ensuring that key positions are held by individuals who fully support and execute the administration’s policies is crucial for coherent and unified leadership. This mandate is especially critical in agencies like MinDA, which are pivotal to regional development and national progress.

While Acosta’s claims reflect her personal commitment to her role, the broader perspective of governance supports the Marcos’s decision.

The ability to swiftly and decisively address issues of trust within high-level appointments is a cornerstone of effective administration.

By appointing Magno, who took his oath on May 21, 2024, the President exercised his prerogative to ensure that MinDA is led by someone who has his full confidence and support.

Marcos’s decision to replace Acosta with Magno is entirely within his legal rights and mandate.

It reflects a necessary aspect of executive governance—maintaining a team of trusted leaders who can effectively implement the administration’s policies and vision.
While such decisions may sometimes be contentious, they are integral to the functioning of a responsive and responsible government.

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Catch Gilbert Perdez’s “Barangay 882” radio show every Saturday from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Tune in via ALIW Channel 23, DWIZ AM Radio, the DWIZ 882 Facebook page, or DWIZ ON-DEMAND on YouTube. You can contact him via email at [email protected] or through this number: 0991-3543676.