PRIVILEGE SPEECH: It has been quite a productive endeavor in my close to 18 years in public service

[Councilor Maria Belen “Mabel” Sunga-Acosta delivered this Privilege Speech on January 11, 2022, her farewell speech as Councilor of the first district for nearly 18 years. President Rodrigo Duterte named Acosta as chair of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), succeeding former Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol who resigned to run for the Senate). 

To the Honorable Vice Mayor Sebastian Z. Duterte, esteemed colleagues of the 19th City Council, my beloved constituents in the First Congressional District of Davao City, friends, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Madayaw og Maayong Hapon.

This might sound ironic, but truth to tell, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that one day I would be an elected official. While I did not think of myself as a politician in the traditional sense, public service, on the one hand, was a calling close to my heart even when I was a young student leader, or school paper editor. 

So being a teacher, and media practitioner after college was the serviceI rendered for society. Hence, I handled classes in English and Mass Communication, was seen on TV and heard on radio as a news anchor and radio host, and built a name and career, and thought that was it.

But Fate has other plans. In one of the episodes of the public affairs program Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa, which I co-hosted with then Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte, he openly asked me right then and there to run for a seat in the City Council by saying, “Maayo pag mu dagan ka sa council Mabel. Mudaug ka.”

And so it came to pass that in my first run in 2001, I and Atty. Angela Librado, came out as the first and second councilors with the highest number of votes garnered in the first district of Davao City.

We were also one of the youngest neophyte legislators then. And henceforth, I would always come out number 1 in succeeding elections in 2001, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2016, and 2019.

For that, I am forever grateful to my supporters and those who consistently voted for me. Daghan kaayong salamat sa mga taga unang distrito sa Davao sa inyong hugot nga suporta sukad pa kaniadto, og nagpabilin gihapon sa pagka karon. Dili kabayran, ang kalipay nga akong gibati sa talagsaon na gasa nga inyong gihatag nako.

In turn, I worked hard to fulfill my duties as a legislator and public servant. I was the Chairperson of the Committee on Education for several terms, and eventually became Chairperson of the Committee on Special Publications and the Committee on Peace and Public Safety in the latter years. I would have had served a total of close to Eighteen (18) years, from July 2001 to January of Year 2022. In that span of time, I have pushed for the approval of several ordinances and resolutions, authored and co-authored items.

I have also served in various positions in the Lady Local Legislators League of the Philippines (Four-L), National Movement of Young Legislators (NMYL), and the Philippine Councilors League (PCL). In 2008, our office established the Acosta Cup, An Open Football Tournament for young ladies and girls with the help of Janice Celestial who was a football player of the University of the Philippines-
Mindanao, who became my legal staff, and is now a Judge in IGACOS. In 2017, the Davao Young Leaders Congress (DYLC), which endeavored to train young leaders, was also established together with then Councilor April Marie Dayap, who now heads the Davao City Investment Promotion Office (DCIPC).

In 2008, I was given the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Kabalikat Award for our initiatives in barangay based livelihood skills programs. In 2009, the consortium of the Philippine Councilors League (PCL), JCI Philippines, and the Office of the late Senator Edgardo Angara awarded me as one of the Ten Most Outstanding Councilors of the Philippines (TOCP). My Chief of
Staff then, was Yvette Sunga, who is now the Assistant Regional Director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Region 10.

In my Three (3) year break from public service from 2010 to 2013 when it was disallowed to run for the same office for Three (3) consecutive terms, I served as a Head of Delegation or National Leader for the 39th Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP), took and passed the first Real Estate Broker Examination, and also became an Alumna of the US State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program.

In 2014, I passed the Career Executive Service (CES) Written Examination, and went on to complete the next (Three) 3 phases to become one of the first elected officials to become Career Executive Service Eligible in 2015. I was also the Recipient of Career Executive Service Very Innovative Person (CES VIP) in the year 2019, for exemplary service as a career executive and official.

And so, all these have come to this point. May I formally inform the City Council, and the constituents of Davao City whom I represent, that I have received my appointment as Chairperson of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) last Friday, January 7, 2022. 

It is with sadness that I hereby tender my resignation as Councilor of the 1st Congressional District of Davao City, as after all, the Council has been my second home for quite a time. But in the same breath, it is also with high hopes that as I
leave these august chambers, I bring with me a wealth of wisdom and experience acquired during my service to the people of Davao City, which would be beneficial to the people of Mindanao.

It has been quite a productive endeavor in my close to eighteen (18) years in public service and I am truly grateful for the support of our constituents and the City Council. It has been both an honor and privilege to have served and worked for you, and with you, in the City Government of Davao.

At this juncture, please allow me as well, to manifest the nomination of Luna S. Acosta, as my successor in the Council. She is both a family member, and a party member of Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), as stated in the rules of succession in Memorandum Circular No. 151, S. 1992. Likewise, I have sent a letter request to the Head of Hugpong Ng Pagbabago (HNP), the Honorable Mayor Sara
Z. Duterte, for a Certification and Nomination, as a Member of the political party, for her to assume as 1st District Councilor in my stead.

Rest assured that Luna shall perform the duties and responsibilities of the position, to the best of her ability, with your kind consideration and support. She has been working in our office since 2013, as legal staff, and eventually as legal head. She has also finished her law studies and about to take the bar examination.

Thank you very much for all your support throughout my career as a public servant. I look forward to working with you soon someday in any other capacity or circumstance, as we serve our nation.

Sa mga taga Davao City, lalong lalo na sa mga taga first district na walang sawang bumoto at sumuporta sa akin mula noon hanggang ngayon, mahal na mahal ko po kayo. Maraming maraming salamat po sa inyong tiwala sa akin. Salamat sa oportunidad na kayo ay pagsilbihan. Salamat sa lahat nang natutunan ko at naranasan ko bilang Dabawenyo, at bilang Pilipino.

Salamat Mayor Inday Sara Duterte. Salamat Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte. Salamat sa Mga kasama ko sa konseho. Salamat kay Congressman Pulong Duterte, Senator Bong Go, Ma’am Charito Santos at sa iyong mga staff, sa mga Department Heads ng City Hall at mga staff, sa Team Acosta na kaakibat ko sa public service. Salamat sa ABS-CBN Davao at sa mga mga kaibigan sa media, kung saan ako ay
tumagal rin bilang media practitioner. Salamat din sa aking pamilya, especially to my husband Capt. Rey Acosta, my mother Binelda J. Sunga, retired superintendent of DEPED, my late father Atty. Dominador Sunga Sr., sa suporta at sa pag unawa sa aking kakaibang trabaho. 

Salamat din ng sobra sobra Kay President Rodrigo Duterte sa lahat lahat. Nung nasa media pa ako, sunod kami ng sunod kay Mayor Rody para maka kuha ng balita. Nakita ng aking mga mata, at naramdaman ko rin kung gaano niya kamahal ang mga taga Davao at kung gaano siya ka dedicated sa kanyang pag lingkod sa
bayan. Kung iku kwento ko lahat, lahat na pangaral niya sa akin, at lahat na na obserbahan ko rin, baka pwede na ito maging libro.

Siempre labis na pasasalamat din sa Dios. For giving me strength, protection, guidance, and everything.

This is my last attendance as a Member of the 19th City Council. Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat. Sabayan niyo po ako sa dalangin na sana magampanan ko rin ng Mabuti ang magiging responsibilidad ko sa aking susunod na tungkulin.
Maayong Hapon sa tanan