Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Danilo Lim has passed away Wednesday morning, more than a week after he announced he tested positive for coronavirus disease.
“It is confirmed that our beloved MMDA Chairman General Danny Lim passed away this morning,” said MMDA spokesperson and Assistant Secretary Pircelyn Pialago.
Pialago did not give any information, saying “Let's all wait for the official announcement of the family and Malacanang.”
But in a message sent to reporters, the agency’s chief information officer Sharon Gentalian said the MMDA chief died of heart attack.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace expressed its deep condolences to the family, loved ones and colleagues of Chairman Lim, who he said, died before 8 a.m. Wednesday morning at the age of 65.
“MMDA Chair Lim served the Duterte Administration with professionalism, competence and integrity. He would be dearly missed. May the perpetual light shine upon him, and may his soul, through the mercy of the Almighty, rest in eternal peace,” said Roque.
“The Palace expresses its deep condolences to the family, loved ones and colleagues of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Danilo Lim who died before 8 a.m. this morning at the age of 65,” Roque said.
He said the Palace will remember Lim for the public service he rendered during the Duterte administration.
On Dec. 29, Lim made the announcement on his social media account that he tested positive for COVID-19 but despite this, he said, he will continue working remotely and will conduct meetings with MMDA officials via teleconference.
He said: “Since the Enhanced Community Quarantine, your servant has been working regularly because the service provided by the MMDA in Metro Manila cannot be delayed. Our agency is also one of the frontlners in the fight against COVID-19.”
President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Lim as MMDA chairman in May 2017, replacing then concurrent general manager and acting chairman Thomas Orbos.
When he assumed the top post in the MMDA, Lim, a known disciplinarian leader, initiated a one strike policy and vowed to dismiss from the service traffic enforcers and other agency employees found to be corrupt, abusive and remiss in their work.
More than 1,000 MMDA traffic enforcers have already been terminated, 91 personnel were preventively suspended for various cases, and 257 were reprimanded following Lim’s strict fight against corruption in the agency.
Lim also led the creation of a website where the complaint portal “I Will Act” is hosted as part of the MMDA’s program to cleanse its ranks of erring personnel.
In the May 2010 elections, Lim ran for senator under the Liberal Party, the political party of then President Benigno Aquino III, but lost.
A member of the Philippine Military Academy “Makatarungan” Class of 1978 and a graduate of the US West Point Academy, Lim took part in coup attempts against then-Presidents Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
In 2006, Lim was incarcerated at the Camp Crame in Quezon City for rebellion charges. After more than four years in prison, he was granted temporary freedom by the Armed Forces on May 31, 2010.
Lim also served as deputy commissioner for intelligence at the Bureau of Customs but he tendered his resignation two days after President Aquino berated the Customs and two other agencies for alleged corruption during his State of the Nation Address in 2013.
The PUP College of Law Research Corps extended its condolences to the family of Lim.
The group said that Lim was born on June 2, 1955 in Solano, Nueva Vizcaya, and was the youngest of five brothers of Chinese descent.
It also said that Lim’s father, He Yia Lim, was a Chinese rice trader whose roots can be traced back to Xiamen, China, while his mother, Catalina Delapuz, is from Bohol. The older Lim died when Danilo was still two years old.
In a Facebook post, MMDA’s Edsa traffic chief Edison “Bong” Nebrija bid farewell to the MMDA Chair.
“Farewell my brother tonight, farewell,” Nebrija said.
In a separate statement, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo cited Lim’s “unblemished character and reputation for hard work” that served as the foundation for Duterte’s decision to appoint him as MMDA Chair.
“The retired Brigadier General was widely known as a man of principle and a true gentleman. It was his unblemished character and reputation for hard work that served as the foundation for President Duterte’s decision to appoint Brig. Gen. Lim as the Chairman of the MMDA,” he said.
Panelo also noted how Lim was a member of the Philippine Military Academy-Makatarungan Class of 1978 and at the same time, graduated with flying colors from the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point.
“He similarly served as a commander of the Scout Rangers, or the First Scout Ranger Regiment, a unit in the Philippine Army specializing in warfare. He bagged various awards during his stint in the military, including the Presidential Medal of Merit,” he added..
Panelo said Lim was fearless in fighting for what he believed in, especially with respect to political abuses and related issues.
“As spokesperson of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement, he participated in the coup attempt against the administration of former President Corazon Aquino in 1989. He also took action against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, calling for the latter’s ouster in 2007,” he said.
Despite his gentle and humble exterior, Panelo said Lim has “an iron-clad ferocity of a man trained in the art of warfare and strategy and deep-seated conviction of protecting the people’s welfare.”
“The loss of Chairman Lim will surely be felt across the bureaucracy and the military he served with distinction,” he said.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the country lost an esteemed leader with the death of Lim.
“With the passing of General Lim, the country lost an esteemed leader, who valued public service above all else. His vision, which he carried through from his beginnings as a young officer in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to his later years as a civilian public servant, was to uphold good governance and lead by example,” he added.
Lorenzana said the DND also condoles with the family and loved ones of the late MMDA chief.
“A member of Philippine Military Class of 1978, General Lim took the helm of the MMDA with his appointment in 2017 and oversaw the agency’s front-line response to the (coronavirus disease 2019) Covid-19 pandemic for the majority of the year 2020,” he added.
As chairperson of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the National Task Force Against Covid-19, Lorenzana said he is grateful for Lim’s support to their various inter-agency emergency response operations through the years.
“I also convey my sympathies to General Lim’s loved ones and his colleagues at the MMDA. May he rest in peace,” he added.
The Philippine Army also expressed grief over Lim’s death.
“The Philippine Army is saddened by the passing of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman and retired Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim. He is an exemplary leader who dedicated his life in serving the people, even amidst this pandemic. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family,” Army spokesperson, Col. Ramon Zagala said in a statement.
He was among the former military officers appointed by the President to various posts in the government. With PNA