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Tulfo sister, 2 others get Cabinet posts

THERE were no cuss words or long-winded press conferences, but President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s latest additions to his Cabinet on Tuesday were generally welcomed as executives who can lead their departments to extraordinary levels of achievement.

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In a video sent to reporters, the Duterte administration announced the designation of Ramon Lopez as trade secretary, Wanda Tulfo-Teo as tourism secretary and Dr. Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial as health secretary.

Fr. Joel Tabora, Ateneo de Davao president, said Duterte had also designated his former professor, Jose David Lapuz, as chair of the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd). There was no confirmation of this report.

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CHEd Chair Patricia Licuanan was appointed by President Aquino in 2010 for a four-year term fixed under the law. She was reappointed to a second four-year term, which expires in 2018.

Ernesto Abella, a former pastor of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines and a Davao newspaper columnist, announced on state television PTV 4 he had been designated deputy spokesperson.

Duterte’s spokesperson, Salvador Panelo, told reporters that the newest appointments passed the criteria for “integrity, competence and experience.”

Confidence in Lopez

The business community expressed confidence in Lopez, executive director of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, whose main advocacy is Go Negosyo.

“The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) have been regularly discussing with Go Negosyo about programs to empower the micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) like mentoring, financing and other support activities for young entrepreneurs, exporters and manufacturers,” Philexport president Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr. said in a text message.

“He will hit the ground running,” he said.

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Ubial of M’lang, North Cotabato, is currently the assistant health secretary for health regulations. She is the second Cabinet secretary named by Duterte from North Cotabato, whose former governor, Emmanuel Piñol, has been designated head of the Department of Agriculture.

Teo, sister of Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo, is the president of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies and Mt. Apo Travel and Tours based in Davao City.

Lopez has served the business sector for 22 years as a top executive of RFM Corp. He previously worked with the National Economic and Duterte-Cabinet2-0615Development Authority and the Department of Trade and Industry and has experience in trade and industry development planning.

Lopez topped his master in development economics at Williams College in Massachusetts, and finished his AB Economics degree at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Right person

“Lopez is more than qualified. We feel that he’s the right person for the job with much dedication to promote the agenda of MSMEs,” PCCI president George T. Barcelon said in a phone interview.

Makati Business Club executive director Peter Angelo V. Perfecto said that with Lopez MSMEs and entrepreneurship may get a much-needed boost that could contribute to inclusive growth.

Lopez on Tuesday said his appointment was “not expected because we are ready and have been helping from private sector side through Go Negosyo for past 11 years.”

“But I couldn’t say no also when (Duterte) mentioned his sincere wish to help the poor and micro and small sectors for the country and to also level up the existing businesses to be more innovative especially those in the sectors where we have comparative advantage, where the Philippines will be known for,” Lopez said.

“I’m just an instrument to help them but I am sure all of you would like to do something for the underprivileged groups. Use me,” he said.

Visionary

Medical and health groups on Tuesday likewise welcomed the appointment of Ubial.

“Her appointment uplifts the morale of the DOH (Department of Health) bureaucracy being an insider. Her vast experience in community health as a career officer will bring the department to greater heights particularly in pushing for primary care system,” said Dr. Anthony Leachon, president of the Philippine College of Physicians Foundation.

Leachon described Ubial as a visionary who can steer the DOH to “extraordinary levels” despite the “daunting tasks” ahead.

The 53-year-old Ubial rose through the ranks, starting her career in public health in 1988 as a rural health volunteer in Kidapawan, North Cotabato, before she became a medical specialist of the DOH in Cotabato City in 1989.

Ubial also served as the assistant city health officer of Cotabato City for a year in 1990 before she was assigned to the DOH headquarters in Manila as medical specialist for the Maternal and Child Health Service and head of the Polio Eradication Unit.

She graduated from the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center. She also has a master’s degree in public health from the University of the Philippines Manila. With a report from Leila B. Salaverria and Jovic Yee in Manila; and Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao

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