Thursday, April 21, 2016


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Since Presidential candidates are beginning to reveal their preferences for some Cabinet members, citizens might as well reveal their own wish lists. Here is my list (in no particular order):

ES/PMS/OCS: Gov. Joey Salceda [why]
DILG: Former Sen. Richard "Dick" Gordon [why]
DND: Clarita Carlos [why]
DBM: Former Rep. Edcel Lagman [why]
DoF: BSP Gov. Amado Tetangco [why]
DFA: Former DND Sec. Gilbert Teodoro [why]
DSWD: Rep. Leni Robredo [why]
DPWH: Sec. Rogelio Singson [why]
NEDA: Manuel F. Montes [why]
DTI: Manuel V. Pangilinan [why]
DOLE: Former Rep. Walden Bello [why]
DOT (Transportation): USec. Teodoro Encarnacion [why]
DICT: Diosdado Banatao [why]
DoE: Rowaldo Del Mundo [why]
DA: Former Sec. Cielito Habito [why]
DAR: Rep. Neri Colmenares [why]
DENR: Antonio Oposa, Jr. [why]
DOH: Former USec. Madeleine Valera [why]
PCOO: Glenda Gloria [why]
PCDSPO: USec. Manuel "Manolo" Quezon III [why]
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson: Karen Jimeno [why]
DoJ: Solicitor-General Florin Hilbay [why]
DOST: Alfredo Mahar Lagmay [why]
DepEd: Randy David [why]
CHED: Former UPSE Dean Emmanuel De Dios [why]
DoT (Tourism): Yolanda Ong [why]

I have also in mind other individuals for major government posts which are not necessarily Cabinet rank, but deeply impacts the delivery of government services.

HUDCC: Felino A. Palafox, Jr. [why]
BSP: BSP Dep. Gov. Diwa Guinigundo [why]
NAPC: Former NAPC VC Ana Maria Nemenzo [why]
PhilHealth: UPSE Dean Orville Solon [why]
MMDA: Benjamin Dela Peña [why]
SSS: HDMF President and CEO Darlene Berberabe [why]

Note that I have not consulted these people when I made this list, though I sure hope they would agree to accept the Cabinet post if they are offered. I also have many people in mind as Undersecretaries or Deputy Director Generals or Vice Presidents, etc. of these institutions. Unfortunately, one blog post won't be enough.


Joey Salceda
Executive Secretary
Presidential Management Staff
Office of the Cabinet Secretary

Duterte offered Joey Salceda the post of NEDA Chief should he win, but it would be a disservice to the Filipino people if the vast array of competencies the Governor has - from economic, technical, political, local, etc. - will only be deployed in one specific aspect of government. Gov. Salceda can deliver more for the people as concurrent Executive Secretary, Chief of the Presidential Management Staff (the clearing house for all policy decisions of the President), and the Cabinet Secretary. These three positions are better lodged under one office, the OES, with undersecretaries manning the two major functions (PMS, OCS) and assistant secretaries manning the sub-functions.

Prior to his stint as Government of Albay, he was a three-term Representative, serving as Chair of the Committee on Trade and Industry and Vice Chair of the Committees on Ways and Means and Economic Affairs. In 2007, he became President Arroyo' Presidential Chief of Staff, and was often name-dropped as a member of President Arroyo's unofficial braintrust. Before he became a politician, the management engineering graduate from Ateneo was Research Director of UBS Warburg - a division of Swiss Bank Corporation, and was voted as one of the top five analysts in a 1996 survey of Philippine fund managers. [go back to top]

Richard "Dick" Gordon (running for Senator)
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)

The former Senator, former Tourism Secretary, and current Chair of the Philippine Red Cross is now a household name, and likely to win a Senate seat this 2016 elections. One must ask, however, if it would be better for the Philippines if he is appointed instead as the next Interior Secretary, given that no other person seems better qualified for the task. In fact, before the names of Robredo, Binay, and Duterte became associated with LGU reform - there was already a Gordon. So why not Gordon as DILG chief?

The history of his local and national success is already well-documented. He was well known to have transformed Olongapo City in early 1980s from a "sin city" to a "model city" (a highly urbanized city by 1983) by modernizing the town's police systems and implementing highly effective urban development strategies - focusing on sanitation and waste management, traffic regulations, I.D. systems, among other reforms. To counteract the economic repercussions of the removal of U.S. bases, he pushed for implementation of the free port concept and the conversion of U.S. bases into development zones. He subsequently took over the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority which administered the Subic Bay Freeport Zone - which, by 1996, had grown into an investment hub thanks to the 1996 APEC summit, with bluechip companies like FedEx Express, Enron, Coastal Petroleum now El Paso Corporation, Taiwan computer giant Acer and France telecoms company Thomson SA investing in the freeport zone.

Gordon utilized his competencies as a former brand manager of Procter and Gamble Philippines  in the Department of Tourism, eventually leading to the success of the Wow Philippines branding by early 2000s and demonstrating his competency in handling a Cabinet portfolio. [go back to top]

Clarita Carlos
Department of National Defense (DND)

Given the emerging complexities of our defense modernization objectives, we need someone who not only understands the technical components of running the Philippine military, but also gets the political context through which it operates. We need a political-military expert for the job, and the right person for the job is Prof. Clarita Carlos, President of the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) from 1998 to October 2001, the first lady civilian to head the college. Surely, another first for Carlos - as first woman Defense Secretary who is not a sitting President of the Republic - will no longer be surprising.

Carlos is President of the Center for Asia Pacific Studies Inc. and a full-time professor at UP Diliman. She has lectured at the National Defense University in the United States, and also at the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD). She worked as a consultant for the Philippine Senate from 1988 to 1998, and a consultant of the Local Government Development Foundation since 1993. She received Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service and Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Political Science at UP Diliman. She later pursued post-doctoral degrees in Political psychology and Comparative Foreign Policy Analysis at Cornell University and University of California at Los Angeles respectively. [go back to top]

Edcel Lagman (running for Representative of 1st District of Albay)
Department of Budget and Management

Government budgeting is as much a political task as it is technical. Technical reforms via IT-supported budgeting and performance-based monitoring can be undertaken by DBM Undersecretaries, but for DBM Chief, we need someone with political gravitas and vast experience in dealing with the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees. This is especially true at the wake of judicial de-legitimization of executive fiscal powers, including but not limited to PDAF, DAP, and limitations on impoundment and savings. The next executive can face an intransigent Congress which can now compete with Malacañang over budget priorities.

So who else should we put in DBM but a former House Appropriations Chief and former DBM Undersecretary like Edcel Lagman? A five-term Congressman, he has served as Minority Floor Leader and Chair of the Appropriations Committee. He is known to have championed progressive legislation, such as the Reproductive Health Bill. A superb human rights lawyer, Lagman has served as legal officer for the Office of the President and chief legal counsel for the Philippine Senate.

Under the tumultuous reign of Arroyo, he has managed to sway Congress to enact progressive reforms in the Philippine budget. His political and technical acumen is sorely needed in an emerging era of Executive-Legislative fiscal confrontation. [go back to top]

Amado Tetangco, Jr. (to retire as BSP Governor)
Department of Finance (DoF)

Binay recently announced that he is considering inviting current BSP Governor Amado Tetangco, Jr. to his cabinet. If I have it my way, I will make sure that Tetangco lands becomes our next Finance Secretary. Named as the Central Banker of the Year in 2013 by The Banker, and one of the world's six best central bankers for 2012, 2011, 2007, and 2006 by Global Finance magazine, Tetangco is set to retire from BSP as the only Governor to serve two terms. It would be such a waste of talent if we just allowed him to go gently into the good night.

Tetangco as DoF chief is not really unexpected. In most countries, the Central Bank and the Finance Ministry often work hand in hand, even with the presumed independence of the former, often to set interest rates that support the triple purpose of inflation, exchange rate stability, and economic growth. In the Philippines, DoF and BSP work together with NEDA, DBM and OP to set budget levels (see DBCC). Tetangco as DoF chief will bring in the perspective of a Central Banker in ensuring that the country's revenue-generation policy is not only enough to finance the fiscal needs set by DBM, but also does not siphon too much resources the private sector can use for production and employment-generation. [go back to top]

Gilbert Teodoro
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)

Former Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary and three-term Congressman Gilbert Teodoro, Jr. was seen as a brilliant debater and competent decision maker in the 2010 national elections, but was unfortunately handicapped by his association with unpopular President Arroyo. His chance for redemption would be as the country's chief diplomat.

Articulate, intelligent, and charismatic, Teodoro will become the champion of an assertive foreign policy with a national defense perspective - something we need right now as we strategically navigate our way between expansionism of China on the one hand and the machinations of the United States on the other. Teodoro will be a symbol of independent but pragmatic brand of Philippine diplomacy in a period of several security threats - from terrorism, climate change, trade and currency conflict, to changing epidemiologic landscapes.

Only those as versatile as Teodoro can deliver the diverse tasks required of a 21st century diplomat. A bar topnotcher, Teodoro obtained his Master of Laws degree from Harvard Law School and was  admitted to the State Bar of New York.  He assumed the position of Assistant Majority Leader in the 11th Congress and was appointed as a contingent contingent to the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council. [go back to top]

Leni Robredo (running for Vice President)
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)

Liberal Party Vice Presidential Candidate Rep. Leni Robredo recently revealed that she prefers, if given a cabinet post, to be in charge with streamlining government services against poverty. The agency that comes to mind would be the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), which would have been perfect given her long history of working with the basic sectors, currently unified under the commission. At its current legal status, however, we have seen how a competent NAPC Secretary like Joel Rocamora can be clipped by bureaucratic forces that favor large agencies such as DILG and DSWD.

DSWD, in any case, is the Vice Chair of the Government Sector of NAPC. DSWD also handles the National Household Targeting System - the primary database for targeting customized interventions for poor households. DSWD also manages the plethora of anti-poverty instruments by the government, including the popular Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), and the community-driven development (CDD) initiatives KALAHI-CIDSS.

Robredo as concurrent Vice President and DSWD Chair is the best thing we'll have for mobilizing all of government's social welfare and human development programs for uplifting those in the margins and finally eradicating poverty in the Philippines. Robredo is poised to be one of the most competent and popular social welfare secretaries in Philippine history. [go back to top]

Rogelio Singson
Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)

There is no doubt that Sec. Rogelio Singson steered DPWH well. Not only is he credited with having improved the image of the most consistently voted most corrupt agency (reminiscent of how former Sen. Raul Roco did the same for DECS), he also made sure that the infrastructure agency is a buoyant ship of efficient expenditure in a sea of underspending agencies. Under his leadership, DPWH gained  ISO 9001:2008 Certificate for Quality Management System. We still need Singson's steady hand in continuing the various infrastructure projects still in pipeline, especially the Public Private Partnerships (PPP) started during Aquino's term.

An industrial engineer, Singson served in various senior positions in the private sector and the government such as Senior Vice President for Business Development, Citadel Holdings, Inc. from July 2002 to May 2007, Chairman and President of Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) from July 1998-February 2002; and concurrent Chairman of the Board of John Hay Poro Point Development Corporation, BCDA Management Holdings Inc., and North Luzon Railways Corporation (NLRC) from July 1998 to February 2002. He was also a past president and Chief Executive Officer of Maynilad[go back to top]

Manuel F. Montes
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)

Manuel F. Montes is a home-coming economist - a product of UP School of Economics and Stanford University. Montes is currently Senior Advisor on Finance and Development at the South Centre in Geneva, but he was, just a few years ago, the Chief of Development Strategies, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) where he led the team that produced the 2011 World Economic and Social Survey (WESS).

In the 2011 WESS, Montes' team outlined a Green National Innovation Strategy (G-NIS) - a new industrialization strategy for developing nations at a time of climate change and peak oil. One can only imagine what he can do in designing the Philippine Development Plan for 2016-2022. He might just be the one to continue Balisacan and Esguerra's work in pulling the country to upper middle income country by 2020.

His past appointments include: Chief of Policy Analysis and Development in the UN’s Financing for Development Office, where he also served as Secretary of the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters; UNDP Regional Programme Coordinator, Asia Pacific Trade and Investment Initiative based at the Regional Centre in Colombo, Sri Lanka, among many others. That was excluding his teaching stints in various universities around the globe. [go back to top]

Manuel V. Pangilinan
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 

All modern industrialized countries were built in the backs of strong, professional, and expansionist trade ministries. Japan, Malaysia (see MIDA and MITI), South Korea, and Singapore (see MTI and Temasek) have all been reliant on their respective trade and industry departments to navigate the complexities of the global market while building their nation's own strategic competitive advantages.

Unfortunately, our current DTI has been transformed into a low-key cabinet post which can only deliver small projects like One Town One Product or NICCEP. Even the SLP is managed by the DSWD and not by DTI. The current trade department is merely a shadow of its former self. Marcos' Ministry of Trade and Industry which can marshal as high as 10% of GDP for industrial development (see page 117 of this document), including the so-called 11 Major Industrial Projects (MIP) guided by Minister Roberto Ongpin.

We need to be ambitious, and therefore we need someone audacious, competent, and successful enough like tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan at the helm of DTI. As he had done as corporate "Pac-Man" - slowly expanding his empire by eating defunct utilities and pulling them into corporate modernity - he can do as trade and industry chief. He is simply the best man for the job of expanding our parastatals and pushing us towards an expansionary industrial policy. Instead of managing and expanding value only for his shareholders, MVP can now do the same for the rest of the Filipino people. He will become a modernizing, corruption-free Ongpin that we need right now.

Who will replace MVP? If Sec. Mar Roxas won't make it to the Presidency, then the Filipino people will be better served by placing him somewhere where his business acumen can serve greater means - in reorienting privatized utilities controlled by MVP including PLDT, Manila Water, Meralco, Smart, NLEX-SLEX connector, MRT (via proxy in MRTH) towards more socially-oriented goals. We already have to accept that these are essential services, and running them is essentially public service. So short of nationalizing or cooperativizing these utilities (something we should already be planning anyway), someone like Mar Roxas should take over MVP's empire. I'm just hoping that Araneta's assets are enough to convince the boards of companies to let Mar take on MVP's mantle. [go back to top]

Walden Bello (running for Senator)
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)

Former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, a recognized global expert on development policy and globalization studies and a product of Ateneo and Princeton, is best appointed as the country's job-generation czar. His sociological approach in deconstructing economic phenomena is perfect fit for such a complex task as providing employment for millions of unemployed Filipinos while increasing wages to combat underemployment, all while reversing contractualization.

Bello has spent a long career battling trade agreements and trade institutions like the World Trade Organization (TWO) that threatened employment and working class interests not just in the Philippines but around the world. His progressive praxis throughout the years has already endeared him to the country's working class. His achievements in the House of Representatives includes protecting OFWs, providing them credit assistance, exposing the sex-for-flight scheme by nefarious elements within POEA, and investigating weak links in DOLE's regulatory mechanism in light of the Kentex disaster.

Right now, he is endorsed by NAGKAISA - the largest agglomeration of labor centers in the country including TUCP, Sentro-APL, PM, BMP, MAKABAYAN, PS-LINK, among others - as independent Senatorial candidate.  [go back to top]

Teodoro Encarnacion (former DPWH USec.)
Department of Transportation (DOT)

Note: Assuming that the DICT bill (HB 6198) will be signed by the President in June, then we will end up with a Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) and a separate Department of Transportation (DOT).

The task of fixing the country's transportation system requires someone with long experience and proven competence. None can question the reputation and contributions made by former Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) USec. Teodoro Encarnacion, Civil Engineering Board topnotcher and a product of UP College of Engineering and School of Urban and Regional Planning. Encarnacion has spent more than 40 years of his life in Department of Public Works, Transportation and Communications (DPWTC, eventually as assistant secretary) and DPWH.

His task is primarily to jump-start all pending big-ticket infrastructure projects, as well as negotiate the consolidation of FMRs and other minor roads into a consolidated multi-nodal transportation network. Encarnacion can be aided by several undersecretaries who we can pull away from the privat sector, like transportation expert Rene Santiago . These undersecretaries can also serve as good candidates to replace Encarnacion once the primary mission of putting the house in order is finished. [go back to top]

Diosdado P. Banatao
Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT)

Note: Assuming that the DICT bill (HB 6198) will be signed by the President in June, then we will end up with a Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) and a separate Department of Transportation (DOT).

Who else should lead the cutting-edge Department other than Diosdado Banatao, the so-called "father of  the semiconductor", a pioneer in the field of micro-electronics, and an immensely successful Silicon Valley serial technopreneur? Banatao co-founded Mostron, Chips and Technologies, and S3 Graphics. In 2010, Banatao became Ikanos Communications' CEO. He is a start-up veteran - the perfect leader for a start-up Department. He is founder and currently managing Tallwood Venture Capital, which invests in the further development of the semiconductor industry.

Some may say that we need a regulator more than an innovator for DICT, given the oligopolistic behavior of our local telecoms industry. I disagree. What we need is someone who can be in charge of building big-ticket, innovative, government-led ICT projects like a national broadband network, so it can actively set the pace for the private sector. Regulatory concerns are best handled by the Philippine Competition Commission, now headed by Arsenio Balisacan. [go back to top]

Rowaldo Del Mundo
Department of Energy (DoE)

What DoE needs is not a politician, but an engineer. One that understands the complexities of conventional power systems, and is also aware of the global transition to renewable energy technologies. The best energy secretary for now would be one who intimately understands the flaws and limitations of the current Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), and can also serve as the country's chief lobbyist to reform the failed law which created the power sector oligopoly that we have right now.

Only Engineer Rowaldo Del Mundo is fit for this task. A power systems expert and currently Associate Professor of Power Systems Simulation Laboratory, UP Electrical & Electronics Engineering Institute, Del Mundo was recently appointed by the Supreme Court as amicus curiae for his expertise in energy and power systems engineering to provide independent and technical assistance to the Court. Del Mundo was also known to have authored the Philippine Grid Code and the Philippine Distribution Code, which were both promulgated by the Energy Regulatory Commission as part of the technical implementing rules and regulations for EPIRA. Del Mundo worked with small power industry players and electric cooperatives on demand aggregation and helped civil society organizations such as the Freedom From Debt Coalition (FDC) in building critiques and alternatives against EPIRA and WESM. [go back to top]

Cielito Habito
Department of Agriculture (DA)

Agriculture is the most important cornerstone of Philippine development. Agriculture only contributes 12% of GDP, yet employs 47% of our people, while being the most investment-starved among the economic sectors. This means that developing Philippine agriculture is not just the key for ensuring food security and triggering manufacturing growth, but also the best strategy for eliminating poverty in the country. We thus need a no-nonsense DA Secretary that will use a scientific-based approach in addressing the ills of agricultural production. We need a DA Secretary can repair the damage wrought by the last one, who ruled incompetently via corruption-tainted patronage and ad hoc approaches.

We specifically need a former NEDA Director-General for the job, Cielito Flores Habito. Habito is not just an excellent economic planner under Ramos (the youngest member of his Cabinet), he is also one of the country's experts in agricultural economics. He is a product of UP Los Baños, Summa cum Laude in agricultural economics, eventually earning his masters and Ph.D. in University of England and Harvard University respectively. In 1991, Habito was one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men Awardees for Economics. [go back to top]

Neri Colmenares (running for Senator)
Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)

Rep. Neri Colmenares is already a known champion of the peasant movement in the Philippines. The three-term Congressman has long been an advocate of House Bill 252 or Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) - a far stronger bill than the current CARPER law. Colmenares is a co-author of a bill seeking to abolish irrigation service fees. He was backed by a major farmer's group in the country - the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). He also supported several peasant-led struggles, including the one in Hacienda Luisita and in Kidapawan, North Cotabato.

It is time to put into the helm of DAR someone who is politically biased towards true land reform - one who cannot be bought and manipulated by landlords actively trying to sabotage government's redistribution program. It would also put the radical movement behind Colmenares in a political position to push for and support the concrete distribution of land, to prove once and for all that their struggle is not just for political propaganda.

Colmenares' legal skills (Colmenares was Associate of the Asian Law Centre at Melbourne Law School and also lectured at the University of Melbourne on International Human Rights Law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court) can be used to navigate the complexities of our agrarian reform laws to the advantage of the impoverished farmer. [go back to top]

Antonio A. Oposa, Jr.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)

The 2009 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee and pioneer of environmental law practice in the country - Atty. Antonio "Tony" Oposa, Jr. - is the DENR Secretary that we need right now. The stringent application of progressive environmental policies, and continuous lobbying against regressive ones, requires someone who has deep understanding of the plethora of legal tools the executive can use. Miners, polluters, illegal loggers, etc. are all out there to subvert our policies and destroy our environment. Oposa can stop them - for this generation and the next ones.

Oposa's name made headlines in 1993 when he in a landmark case, Oposa v. Factoran, the Supreme Court ruled that a group of minors has the right to sue on behalf of succeeding generations in light of environmental abuse - ruling that has since been known as "Oposa Doctrine". He also campaigned against over-fishing and dynamite fishing in the Visayan see, launching the Visayan Sea Squadron in 2004 together with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Network Environmental Action Team, the Network of Legal Experts of the Law of Nature Foundation and many others. He also helped organize a legal strike force, composed of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), DoJ, and DENR against illegal logging. In cooperation of Philippine Judicial Academy, he designed a curriculum for training judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement agents on handling illegal logging violations. [go back to top]

Madeleine De Rosas-Valera
Department of Health (DoH)

For the Department of Health (DoH), we need an expert-insider - someone who has spent a long time navigating the country's health bureaucracy and have successfully seen through and implemented reforms. Most of the issues the DoH is facing now are technical and operational, not political. For instance, the 4Ps and PhilHealth reforms have generated huge demand for health services, but it seems that we are facing  supply-side problems in Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP). PhilHealth has slowly been increasing coverage, but are besieged by competing interests - financial and sectoral - at the country's social health insurance body, the PhilHealth. DoH's bold decision to spend P3.5 billion for dengue vaccines and conduct nation-wide vaccination in major public schools will require intensive monitoring and documentation amid continuing clinical trials - something that political appointees might not be able to able to handle.

For this reason, the next administration might consider promoting one of DoH's own as Secretary. Dr. Madeleine de Rosas-Valera, MD, MScIH, was DoH Undersecretary handling the Cluster on Health Policy, Financing, Research, International Health and National Center for Pharmaceutical Management. She was also the Chairperson for the Formulary Executive Committee and Co-Chair for the DOH Research Hub. She was also Vice President for Finance of PhilHealth, and was also in charge of developing various heath care benefits for TB, Maternity Care, and Non-communicable diseases. Our huge task for monitoring our ambitious dengue vaccination plan is also something that Dr. Valera can expertly handle, having been Patient Safety Technical Officer for WHO Western Pacific Regional Office and an advocate for rational drug use and cost-effectiveness analysis of drugs. [go back to top]

Glenda Gloria
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO)

A veteran of Martial Law-era journalism, Glenda Gloria is currently the Managing Editor of innovative online news network - a powerful new medium that managed to blend social media and traditional news reporting. Gloria's journalistic work and managing experience in mainstream media - from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Manila Times, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Newsbreak, which she co-founded before Estrada was ousted, the ANC, the ABS-CBN News Channel (as Chief Operating Officer), is testament to her deep knowledge of Philippine media and how it works, making her the perfect candidate for managing the government's communication operations.

Gloria earned her journalism degree in 1985 at the University of Santo Tomas. She pursued her Masters in political sociology from the London School of Economics and Political Science (1999) as British Chevening scholar.  In 2014, she was named one of 8 UK Education Ambassadors by the British Embassy, chosen for their excellence in their chosen fields of endeavor. She won the National Book Award with the book "Under the Crescent Moon: Rebellion in Mindanao", co-written with Marites Dañguilan-Vitug. [go back to top]

Manuel "Manolo" Quezon III
Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO)

The grandson of President Manuel L. Quezon, also known as "The Explainer", is the keeper of the country's institutional memory. As head of the PCDSPO, Manolo Quezon tapped into the modern age of social networks and connected it to the rich history of the Philippine Republic. More than that, the administration's communication strategy which the PCDSPO helped design (including but not limited to the President himself speaking in colloquial Filipino) ensured the continuing popularity of President Aquino - the highest in post-EDSA history.

Clearly, we still need "The Explainer". We still need him to guide the continuing image-creation for the Office of the President, independent from and developing separately from the persona of the incumbent. Quezon's contribution is crucial. He should be allowed to do his good work. Better yet, we should ensure career continuity for office holders of the PCDSPO.

Manolo Quezon, who studied political science at the University of the Philippines, started out as a columnist for the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the host and writer of The Explainer on the cable ABS-CBN News Channel. He joined the government in 2003 as Presidential Assistant for Historical Affairs in 2003, but left to become Ayala Museum's history curator from March 2004 to March 2005. He will go back to join the son of an EDSA hero, first as a spokesman for the committee in charge of the Inauguration of President Benigno S. Aquino III, and then as Undersecretary of the PCDSPO. [go back to top]

Karen Jimeno
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson

Note: I have not included a Press Secretary / Presidential Spokesperson because that is supposed to follow the image and branding of the next President. For instance, if Roxas wins, then Rep. Barry Gutierrez can be a good candidate. If Duterte wins, then Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano would make a great spokesman. For Binay, either Gov. Jonvic Remulla or Atty. Rico Quicho will do. For Poe, we have former Rep. Ace Durano.

The media savvy Atty. Karen Olivia V. Jimeno was first known for her staunch legal and media defense of an embattled chief magistrate accused of failing to disclose his statement of assets, liabilities, and network (SALN). Even as her client took the ax, her talent didn't go unnoticed, as she was eventually appointed by Sec. Panfilo Lacson as communications director of the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR) under the Office of the President.

Jimeno is a product of UP College of Law, where she graduated cum laude  in 2005 and was awarded the Dean’s Medal for Academic Excellence. She then took her Master of Laws from Harvard Law School in 2011. She was an editor at the Harvard International Law Journal. She also worked at Quisumbing and Torres, the same law firm where current Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda started out. [go back to top]

Florin Hilbay (currently Solicitor-General)
Department of Justice (DoJ)

Solicitor-General Florin Hilbay, the 1999 Bar topnotcher, is a walking Constitution and a gifted litigation lawyer. Hilbay led the government's defense of the Reproductive Health law, and took the cudgels for the administration even for unpopular measures such as the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

Hilbay stint at the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) actually started more than a decade ago, as associate solicitor in 2002. Hilbay, however, is also known as an excellent academic and advocate, serving as Director of the Institute of Government and Law Reform of the UP Law Center; as COMELEC consultant, and as vice-chair of Bantay Katarungan (Sentinels of Justice), a civic organization formed by former Sen. Jovito Salonga to promote the rule of law.

After topping the Philippine bar, Hilbay went to Boston College as Fullbright Visiting Scholar in 2001, and eventually obtained his Masters of Law degree from Yale Law School in 2005. He held fellowships at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law & International Law in Heidelberg, Germany, and the Asian Law Institute for Comparative Public Law in the National University of Singapore. [go back to top]

Alfredo Mahar Lagmay 
Department of Science and Technology (DOST)

Superb scientist, project manager, and science communicator - these are just few words to describe Dr. Alfredo Mahar Lagmay, executive director of the immensely successful Project NOAH, or the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards. Launched by the DOST in 2012, NOAH has since been a continuing symbol of science's triumph over un-readiness in the face of disasters. DOST needs whatever Lagmay has offered to Project NOAH - a relentless drive to deploy the fruits of technology in a way that is readily accessible to the general public.

Dr. Lagmay, also a professor at the National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS) at UP Diliman, was awarded the Outstanding Filipino for Geology and Earth Science in 2013, as "WikiPinoy of the Year" by WikiPilipinas in 2014 for “empowering the public with open information and insight into the significant issues affecting the country today.” A year later, Lagmay was awarded the Plinius Medal by the European Geosciences Union on 15 April 2015, in Vienna, Austria for his "outstanding interdisciplinary natural-hazard research and natural-disaster engagement in the Philippines, particularly with respect to volcanic hazards, earthquakes, typhoons, landslides and floods." - the first Asian to receive the award.

His radio talk show "RED Alert on DZMM" was recognized in the 9th Hildegarde Awards of St. Scholastica College in 2015,[10] the Communication Management Award of Merit for the Multi-Audience Communication category by the Philippine Quill Awards for 2014 and the 2014 Catholic Mass Media Award (CMMA) for best educational radio program. [go back to top]

Randy David
Department of Education (DepEd)

Media personality, sociologist, educator, public intellectual, and purveyor of political modernity, Randy David has already made his mark and legacy in Philippine society. Perhaps few would demand more from him; his ideas already shaping the way we do our politics as a nation. But I would go so far as to ask him to become the country's next Education Secretary, in order to face the emergent issues in Philippine education - exposure of the youth to social media-driven historical revisionism, DepEd's lack of institutional capacity to absorb more funds, increasing demand for quality education after K-12 implementation, contentions on medium of instruction, among many other things. The complexity of these problems require someone with a mind as complex and sharp as Prof. David. Technical details of implementing programs can be handled by DepEd secretaries. For the person at the top though, we need someone with a clear grasp of a modern philosophy of education.

Prof. David obtained his sociology degree from the University of the Philippines, and subsequently pursued doctoral studies at the University of Manchester. Like many intellectuals of his time, he decided to discontinue and remain in the country to fight Marcos' martial rule. Two decades after the EDSA revolution that toppled Marcos, David finds himself arrested while protesting corruption under President Arroyo. He wrote “Reflections on Sociology and Philippine Society” in 2001 and “Nation, Self, and Citizenship: An Invitation to Philippine Sociology” in 2002; both won the National Book Award. [go back to top]

Emmanuel De Dios
Commission on Higher Education (CHED)

For handling CHED, perhaps none is more qualified than Dr. Emmanuel S. de Dios, former Dean of the UP School of Economics, former head of the subcommittee for economics of the technical panel on humanities, social sciences and communications of CHED, former director of European Studies Programme (Eurosup), UP Centre for Integrative and Development Studies (UP-CIDS), former Assistant Secretary under the Office of Executive Secretary, and member of the drafting committee of the 2010-2016 Philippine Development Plan (see page 13).

De Dios is also the current President of the Human Development Network, member of CHED's Task Force on Graduate Education Review, and fellow of Philippine Center for Policy Studies (PCPS). In 2007 and 2011, he won the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST)'s Outstanding Book Award for his work on the Philippine Human Development Report. An exceptional educator, he won the UP Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Teacher in 2007.

His wide and multidisciplinary erudition will ensure that higher education curricula in the Philippines reflects well the diversity of our needs to fulfill our human development goals. His economics background is crucial in establishing academe-industry linkages - aligning the quality and volume of college graduates to the needs of enterprises. [go back to top]

Yolanda Ong
Department of Tourism (DoT)

Tourism is a battle of global brands. President Aquino already recognized this when he appointed a marketing guru - - as Tourism Secretary. It is time to continue this tradition by appointing someone who can match if not exceed the achievements of "It's More Fun in the Philippines". This is why we need advertising veteran Yolanda Ong to take charge of the DoT and propel the country as top destination for new and unexplored demographics.

Ma. Yolanda V. Ong is co-founder and current chief of Campaigns and Grey, as well as six other affiliate companies. A UP graduate with a degree in AB Journalism, she later pursued her degree in Masters in Public Administration (major in Leadership) from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. She is an award-studded marketer and PR expert, and has gained reputation as a master in image building and media campaigning. She recently battled with former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on a P31.5 million libel suit, effectively turning the tables against the recently jailed Senator by filing a counterclaim and asking Enrile to pay her P88 million in damages instead. [go back to top]

Felino A. Palafox, Jr.
Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC)

There is no better person for the job of ensuring a strategic urban development for Philippine megacities other than Architect Felino Palafox, himself. Founder of Palafox Associates, Palafox was also the first architect-urban planner president of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) in 2011 and president of the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP) for 2013 and 2014. He is also a Fellow of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP). Palafox is the only Southeast Asian to make it to the list of the top 200 architectural firms compiled by the London-based Architecture magazine.

Palafox's Manila Megalopolis 2020 vision he put forward as Harvard term paper back in 2003 is proof that his visionary leadership is what we need in ensuring that Mega Manila and other emerging urban agglomerations like Metro Cebu and Metro Davao are ready for the challenges of the 21st century - booming population requiring new settlement sites, emergence of formal and informal transport nodes, unregulated expansion and establishment of Central Business Districts (CBDs), among others. Palafox's experience in disaster-proof architecture and engineering is what we need in preparing climate change-ready urban masterplans. [go back to top]

Diwa Guinigundo (currently BSP Deputy Governor)
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)

Diwa C. Guinigundo is currently Deputy Governor for the Monetary Stability Sector of the BSP, an institution he served for almost four decades. Guinigundo, like Tetangco, has also earned a reputation in international leadership in the central banking community. For instance, Guinigundo co-chared the ASEAN Senior Level Committee on Financial Integration in 2010-2013. He also chaired the Executive Meeting of East Asia and the Pacific (EMEAP) Monetary and Financial Stability Committee of EMEAP central bank tasked to conduct regional and global surveillance, from 2009 to 2012.  Guinigundo is the best candidate to continue the successful monetary policy pursued by BSP -  monetary policy that has earned international accolades and high business approval.

Guinigundo topped his class to earn AB Economics at the University of the Philippines (UP) School of Economics. He was subsequently sent b y the Central Ban as scholar to the London School of Economics, where he earned his M.Sc. degree in Economics. [go back to top]

Ana Maria Nemenzo (former NAPC Vice-Chairperson for the Basic Sectors)
National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC)

NAPC, despite its limitations as an institution, plays an important role in bridging the basic sectors and the government in ensuring that anti-poverty strategies, programs, projects, and policies are aligned with the interests and analysis of the grassroots. Under the competent leadership of  Sec. Joel Rocamora, we saw NAPC's role expanding beyond its traditional borders, and eventually producing innovations like Bottom Up Budgeting (BuB). In the future, we would like to see a more empowered NAPC by transferring to it some of the functions of other agencies, in particular, the National Household Targeting Office (NHTO) currently under DSWD and the NEDA Social Development Cluster, and by appointing it as member to the Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC).

NAPC's role is best delivered for the next administration by ensuring that Rocamora's replacement will also be someone from the progressive movement - Ana Maria R. Nemenzo, who was also NAPC's first Vice-Chairperson for the Basic Sector when the office was created in 1999. Currently, she is part of a group trailblazing the movement for Transformative Social Protection (TSP) through movement DIGNIDAD - promoting a radical reconceptualization of social welfare system. A civil society veteran, Nemenzo will bring a fresh radical look at anti-poverty programs that already has mass base and political support from the grassroots.

Nemenzo is a pioneer advocate of Reproductive Health (RH) and women's rights, and is one of the pillars of civil society movement in the Philippines. After working with NAPC, she led several mass movement organizations, becoming President of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), International Convenor of the NGO Forum on ADB, founder and National Coordinator of WomanHealth Philippines (in this capacity, she was also part of the Health Partners Group of the Department of Health and in the Coordinating Committee of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty [GCAP]- Philippines), and member of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) Board of Trustees. [go back to top]

Orville Solon
Philippine Health Insurance Corporation

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC, or PhilHealth) has recently made strides in increasing both coverage and improving benefit delivery. 14.7 million of the poorest Filipinos were enrolled via the indigent program. We saw the expansion of the hemodialysis and peritoneal-dialysis packages and the enhancement of the outpatient HIV/AIDS treatment package, among many other things. Persistent problems continue to hound PhilHealth, however, as reports of irregularities in bonuses and reimbursement continue to bleed the country's social health security arm. We need someone who can address the financial problems of PhilHealth while mobilizing its scarce resources to fulfill the dream of Kalusugang Pangkalahatan. The best person would be someone who understands both healthcare and economics.

Dr. Orville Jose C. Solon, the current Dean of the UP School of Economics and Chair of the UPEcon Foundation, is  the optimal choice for a data-driven, evidence-based approach in health insurance policy. The country's foremost expert in health economics, he was Chief of Party of the Health Policy Development Program, a USAID-supported program that helps the Department of Health develop a sustainable and effective policy and financing environment for family Health. Solon was a consultant to the SoH on F1 (FOURmula One for Health).

Solon also acted as team leader of DoH-World Bank National Sector Support for the Health Reform Project Preparation phase, and for the Mid-Project Evaluation of the Management Sciences for Health/Local Enhancement and Development for Health Project. He is co-principal investigator for a USNIH-supported evaluation study of Philippine health sector reforms and a consultant  the Vietnam National Health Support Project. [go back to top]

Benjamin Dela Peña 
Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA)

For handling the country's largest metropolis - the center of Philippine economic, political, and cultural life - we need someone with a clear grasp of cutting-edge technologies and practices in urban development and management. Global cities expert Benjamin de la Peña is such a guy. Reading through his work as a regular columnist for Interaksyon (chech this, this, this, and this out), I am convinced that he is what we need to finally make sense of Metro Manila.

De la Peña is currently Director of Community and National Strategy of the Knight Foundation, having previously served as Associate Director for urban development at the Rockefeller Foundation. At the Rockefeller Foundation, de la Peña initiated and managed more than $35 million in grants over five years, including grants in Africa, Asia, South America and the United States to implement programs on urbanization, the emerging science of cities, role of informality, the bus rapid transit, and transportation policy. He also conceived the Informal City Dialogues and helped initiate the highly innovative  Open Cities Conference,  CityCamp and TransportationCamp, bridging new media, urban policy, and technology.

A UP communications graduate, dela Peña pursued a masters degree from the Harvard University School of Design. He was associate director for implementation at the Smart Growth Leadership Institute, a consultant on geographic information systems, a youth development and leadership programs manager for Ayala Corporation, and a community relations manager for the Manila Water Company[go back to top]

Darlene Marie B. Berberabe
Social Security System (SSS)

SSS needs to be in safe hands, and we can't think of a person better for the handling the institution than Atty. Darlene Marie B. Berberabe,currently the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President of the Home Development Mutual Fund. Also known as Pag-IBIG, the country's national savings and shelter financing program is now worth P350 billion in assets, servicing 13.8 million members. Her competence in handling this gigantic amount is precisely what we need for addressing increasing concerns on fund sustainability, as well as demands for benefits and premium increases.

As Pag-IBIG CEO, she received several awards, including Asia CEO of the Year Award for Public Sector Leadership (2013), The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) Award for Government Service (2013), Outstanding CEO of the Year in the Asia and the Pacific given by the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP) (2012), and the Communication Excellence in Organizations (CEO) Excel Awardee given by International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Philippines (2012). She was also nominated and voted 3rd for Pipol of the Year in 2012 (Sec. Jesse Robredo came in first and Pres. Noynoy Aquino was second).

Despite her association with Vice President Jejomar Binay (Binay offered her the DepEd post and to be his running mate) who was implicated in several corruption cases, Berberabe remains to be a face of integrity, someone who says no to lobbyists and tainted dealings, and someone who can survive an intense Senate Blue Ribbon investigation[go back to top]

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