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Publishers Notes : My unforgettable “public removal” from office under Pres. “Noynoy” Aquino

AFTER my 9-year stint with President Arroyo, new President Benigno “Noynoy”Aquino assumed office in 2010. Although I had a full fixed five (5) year term from 2009 ( when PGMA appointed me) until 2014 , I deemed it appropriate that I forthwith voluntarily relinquish my position in the presidential cabinet as presidential adviser and chairman of the Mindanao Development Authority (MINDA). This would enable the new president to make his own choice of someone he would trust for the job. However, it was only after three (3) months later when that resignation letter was “accepted” and publicly announced but under difficult circumstances ( to my great discomfort and embarrassment).

MY “PUBLIC REMOVAL”

Secretary Mar Roxas of the Dept. of Interior and Local Govt. (DILG) came to General Santos City to open the annual “Tuna Festival” in September, 2010 where I was also scheduled to attend and address the participants in my capacity as MINDA chairman. It was three (3) months into the AQUINO administration. I recall I was already in the venue of the event in Gen. Santos City when I got a call from Sec. Mar that he wanted to talk to me in private before he would deliver his keynote speech. I left the venue and met him in another place. To my surprise, he told me he had to quickly see me because according to him, he was already aboard the plane enroute to Gen. Santos City when he saw for the first time that in one of the paragraphs of his prepared speech, he would be announcing publicly that I would be replaced as MINDA chairman. I remember him telling me that he took special efforts to see me because “Kumpare kasi kita” ( he stood wedding sponsor to my eldest son Jay). He seemed to send the message that he had no hand at all in my being terminated from service. However, deep in my heart I knew there and then that his storyline was unbelievable. Everyone knew that he took full charge of Mindanao for the new president during the early transition phase. It was obvious that his intention was to make me believe that he had nothing to do with that decision. ( I didn’t! “Cross my heart” LOL! )

I kept silent for a while. I truly wished that a simple, civil letter of acceptance was more appropriate for my “graceful exit”. But alas that was not for me to decide. What came to my mind then was: since I had the good sense of voluntarily offering to relinguish earlier in a formal letter addressed to the President, I thought a simple letter of acceptance would have sufficed and not being peremptorily removed by a public announcement with me as part of the audience. Sorry, I thought wrong!

Right there and then, I decided to skip going back to the venue to spare myself the embarrassment of being “fired” publicly “to my face”. I immediately motored back to Davao City disturbed by the impropriety of it all. And so my dear “kumpadre Mar” merrily went on with his speech that day where he publicly announced my “removal” from office.

I was only later after that Gensan event that I received a formal letter of acceptance from Malacanang. I pinched myself to check whether I was just dreaming. Yes, as the saying goes: “too late the hero”.

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