MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network): Former Philippine Airlines president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista is expected to address a sector “battered by systemic challenges” as he was picked by President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr to head the transportation department.
Marcos also picked Cesar Chavez, former deputy administrator of the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), as transport undersecretary for rails; lawyer and former journalist Cheloy Garafil to head the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board; and businessman Christopher Pastrana as general manager of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).
Bautista will succeed Arthur Tugade at the post. A certified public accountant, he served as PAL’s chief finance officer in 1994-1999, executive vice president in 1999-2004, and president in 2004-2012 and in 2014-2019.
His work experience includes stints as an independent director of Nickel Asia Corp., Premium Leisure Corp, and Belle Corp.
Chavez was appointed by President Duterte to the same post at the LRTA in March 2017. He quit in November of the same year after a series of technical glitches that hit Metro Rail Transit 3.
Press Secretary-designate Trixie Cruz Angeles said Chavez was “instrumental in securing” the National Economic and Development Authority board’s approval for the Metro Manila Subway, Philippine National Railways (PNR) Manila to Calamba, PNR Manila to Bicol and the Tagum-Davao-Digos Mindanao rail projects.
Garafil, currently service director at the House of Representatives’ committee on rules, previously worked as a prosecutor for the Department of Justice and state solicitor for the Office of the Solicitor General.
She holds a master’s degree in national security administration from the National Defense College and is a Philippine Air Force reservist.
Pastrana, who will head the PPA, is the president and CEO of CAPP Industries, a supply and logistics conglomerate, and chair of Archipelago Philippines Ferries Corp., which operates the FastCat ferries.
Marcos has also chosen appointees of Duterte to serve under his administration.
He named outgoing Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III as chair and resident representative of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, and renominated Karlo Nograles as chair of the Civil Service Commission.
Bello served as Cabinet secretary under the Arroyo administration in 2004-2010 and was a party list representative in 2013-2016. He has also served as solicitor general and justice secretary. Nograles was among Duterte’s ad interim appointees bypassed by the Commission on Appointments earlier this month. He served as representative of Davao City’s 1st district for eight years.
In a statement, Nograles thanked Marcos for “this opportunity to continue our efforts to further professionalize the civil service, not only to make it world-class but, more importantly, to better serve our fellow Filipinos especially during these trying times.” Bautista told the Inquirer on Thursday (June 23) that he accepted the nomination only on Wednesday night and was still working on his agenda.
Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services, welcomed his nomination as transportation secretary and expressed hope that he would improve the sector “battered by systemic challenges aggravated by the pandemic.”
“The road that lies ahead is rough and bumpy. The mass transportation is woeful,” she said in a statement.
According to Poe, dozens of infrastructure projects remain unfinished, millions of commuters and motorists “face slow death on the road every day due to traffic,” and the nonstop oil price increases are crippling public utility vehicle drivers, as well as vehicle owners and ordinary citizens.
“Our people are destitute for help. Much is expected from the new leadership in the department,” she said.
Robert Siy, coconvener of the transport advocacy group Move as One Coalition, urged Bautista to prioritize decongesting the roads of vehicular traffic and making public transport more efficient and pedestrian-friendly.
Siy highlighted the need to invest more on sidewalks and protected bike lanes to make walking and cycling “safe and attractive travel options.”
He also said Bautista could cut the demand for travel by promoting work-from-home or hybrid work arrangements to ease the traffic flow.
Mody Floranda, national president of Piston, an organization of jeepney drivers and operators, earlier called for the suspension of the fuel excise to bring down surging oil prices. He said this would encourage drivers who had quit to return to work and serve daily commuters.
Former Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol has accepted the offer to serve as food security adviser to National Security Adviser-designate Clarita Carlos.
In an interview on radio dzBB on Thursday, Piñol echoed Carlos’ position that food security, as part of her focus on “human security,” should be considered a national security concern.
As an “adviser to the adviser,” Piñol is to head a team of experts and scholars on food security. Carlos served as a consultant of Piñol when he was agriculture secretary starting in 2016. He resigned in 2019, supposedly due to friction with the administration’s economic team. He then chaired the Mindanao Development Authority until October 2021. His run for a slot in the Senate in the May elections was unsuccessful
Piñol said he had submitted his recommendations of “very practical solutions” to Carlos on how to address the impending food crisis in the country.