Dureza withdraws offer to resign; says EO 2 has clarified his status as MinDA chair

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/17 August) — The chair of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) has withdrawn his July 29 offer to “relinquish the position upon the assumption of the new Chair of your choice,” claiming the President’s Executive Order No. 2 issued on August 4, has “clarified the status of my appointment as Chairman of the newly created MinDA.”

“I was appointed Chairman with a fixed term of six (6) years by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on March 6, 2010 and I assumed office on March 8, 2010. Hence, such appointment per EO No. 2 is valid and outside the ambit of so-called ‘midnight appointments’ whose occupants were forthwith ordered to vacate,” Dureza wrote in his second memo to President Aquino dated August 10.

“In view thereof and in order to uphold the mandate of Republic Act 9996 and to ensure continuity of our work in Mindanao, I shall continue, with Your Excellency’s support, to serve as Chairman of MinDA as mandated by said law,” Dureza said.

MinDA, created by Republic Act 9996 was signed into law by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on February 17 this year.

President Aquino issued EO 2 “recalling, withdrawing, and revoking (appointments of) those who will be proven as midnight appointees of the previous administration.”

Considered as midnight appointments are “those made on or after March 11, 2010, including all appointments bearing dates prior to March 11, 2010 where the appointee has accepted, or taken his oath, or assumed public office on or after March 11, 2010, except temporary appointments in the executive positions when continuous vacancies will prejudice public service or endanger public safety as may be determined by the appointing authority;” those “made prior to March 11, 2010 but to take effect after said date or appointments to office that would be vacant only after March 11, 2010;” and “appointments and promotions made during the period of 45 days prior to the May 11, 2010 elections in violation of Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code.”

Likely to be accepted

On July 31, GMANews.TV quoted  Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda as telling government-run  DzRB radio, that  Dureza’s “offer to relinquish” would likely be accepted.

“In all likelihood tatanggapin yan (that will be accepted) and we will assign a person to replace Sec. Dureza. Hindi natin kaalyado si Sec. Dureza at marami sa ating kaalyado malaki ang concern sa Mindanao. (Sec. Dureza is not our ally and many of our allies are concerned about Mindanao).  I’m sure there are plenty of people the president can appoint to replace Sec. Dureza,” he said.

Dureza was asked at the 1st Northern Mindanao Media Conference in Malaybalay City last Saturday on the status of his “offer to relinquish” his post.

He said as of Saturday, there was no word yet from the Palace on his first memo to the President but that he sent another memo to the President. He did not say when.

As of presstime, the Palace has yet to act on Dureza’s second memo, a copy of which was given MindaNews on August 16.

July 29 memo

On July 29, Dureza offered to relinquish his chairmanship of the MinDA purportedly to give President Aquino “a free hand and full opportunity” to choose the chair who will carry out the mandate of  the office under his administration.

In his two-page, eight-paragraph memorandum for the President on July 29, also coursed through Executive Secretary Ochoa, Dureza said he would “voluntarily relinquish the position upon the assumption of the new Chair of your choice,” to “ensure a smooth and seamless transition and avoid any hiatus in the Authority’s operations.”

“If I may, please allow me to immediately point out the fact that my offer to relinquish the position is not because I am turning my back on my work in Mindanao. I have exerted my best for Mindanao all these years starting with President Ramos and then with President Arroyo. There is a lot more to do for all of us. Neither am I trying to undermine the rationale behind the
‘fixed term’ clause of the MinDA law. Nor am I setting aside the honor and trust given to me by President Arroyo who appointed me and to whom I am most grateful,” Dureza wrote.

He said the “most important consideration now” is that the birth of this “institutionalized agency, which is a fulfillment of Mindanaoans’ long dream and Your Excellency’s assumption into office, provide an opportunity for a fresh start.”

The MinDA chair also sits as Philippine senior official to the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asian Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA);  National Program Director of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) “Act for Peace Programme” that covers former conflict-affected areas and impoverished areas in Mindanao; co- chair of the Mindanao Working Group composed of country representatives of the international donor community; and head of the oversight group in the implementation of USAID projects in Mindanao.

Several names have been mentioned in various Mindanao circles to replace Dureza, among them former South Cotabato Rep. Luwalhati Antonino, Amina Rasul of the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy, former university presidents Fr. Eliseo Mercado, Jr., and Edmundo Prantilla.

Malacanang sources told MindaNews Saturday that there are two names on the list for President Aquino to consider. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)