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Profiles of Cabinet Secretaries

Hon. Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr.
Executive Secretary

Born on November 11, 1960, lawyer Paquito “Jojo” N. Ochoa, Jr. took Economics at the University of Santo Tomas and law at the Ateneo School of Law. He joined the Bar in 1986, and his pro-bono work in his province led to his election as Director and then Vice President of the Bulacan Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. He also engaged in private practice and served as partner of the De Mesa and Ochoa Law Offices and later partner (on leave) in the Marcos Ochoa Serapio Tan Law Firm.

The closeness of the Aquino and Ochoa families––the late Sen. Ninoy Aquino was a close friend of the the senior Ochoa, the former mayor of Pulilan, Bulacan––would lead to Atty. Ochoa being tapped by Noynoy Aquino to handle the latter’s legal requirements when he first ran for Congress in 1998; Atty. Ochoa has handled his legal affairs ever since.

In 2001, when then Rep. Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte, Jr. ran for mayor, Atty. Ochoa headed his legal team. Mayor Belmonte then made Atty. Ochoa his right-hand man and later formally appointed him City Administrator in 2003.

As City Administrator, he helped oversee the management of a city grappling with budget shortfalls and the increasing demands of a fast-growing city. Atty. Ochoa headed the Finance Committee, among others, and implemented systems that would drastically cut down unnecessary spending by the city government.

Prudent spending practices that included a thorough review of the infrastructure requirements of the city and the rationalization of its utilities expenditures––together with improved revenue collection––allowed Q.C. to successfully balance its budget and pay all the obligations of past administrations, including the P33 million in arrears in premium payments to the GSIS dating back to 1997. It also enabled Q.C. to become one of the local government units least dependent on internal revenue allotments (IRA), with the IRA accounting for only 24% of its total income––11% less than it was in 2001.

The city’s fiscal discipline allowed Quezon City to––upon the recommendation of Atty. Ochoa––automatically release the share of Q.C. barangays in the real property tax collections of the city. To ensure that Barangay Chairmen would use their fiscal autonomy wisely, Atty. Ochoa tapped the University of the Philippines’ National College of Public Administration and Governance to train the Barangay officials in the proper disbursement of their funds.

His work as City Administrator has earned praise from governance specialists in the academe like Ateneo School of Government Dean Tony La Viña, who called Atty. Ochoa “an effective, efficient and innovative public servant,” whose “programs intended to improve education, health and business permitting processes” have helped improve the delivery of basic services in Quezon City. Today Quezon City’s health workers are trained to properly implement the Magna Carta of Health Workers; its teachers receive additional training that have helped increase the scores of students in the Q.C. public school system; and Q.C. residents can expect less red tape at city hall.

Sec. Alberto G. Romulo
Department of Foreign Affairs

Secretary Alberto "Bert" Romulo first joined government service as a member of former Pres. Corazon Aquino's economic team. He was a senator from 1987 to 2004, where he served as Majority Leader for five years.

He was named Finance Secretary in January 2001, having been appointed by outgoing Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He left this position in May 2001, but became Executive Secretary.

In June 8, 2001, he was appointed as Executive Secretary and became the Chairman of the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security, NEDA Board Executive Committee and 14 other offices and agencies. His incumbency ended on August 22, 2004.

On August 18, 2004, he was appointed Foreign Secretary, and still holds this position. He served as Chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN in 2007.

Sec. Romulo holds a Bachelor of Science of Commerce (CPA) from the De La Salle University in 1954, a Bachelor of Laws from Manuel L. Quezon University in 1958 and a Doctor of Laws in University of Madrid in 1963.

A recipient of the Gintong Ama Award, Sec. Romulo was also named Most Outstanding Senator of the Philippine Free Press, the Federation of Provincial Clubs, Congressweek magazine, the Senate Radio and Television Press Group and the Philippine Infrastructure Journal.

Sec. Cesar V. Purisima
Department of Finance

Purisima earned his BSC degree in Accounting and MFI at the De La Salle University (1975-1979) and his MBA in International Economics and Finance at Northwestern University-Kellogg School of Management (1981-1983).

Cesar Purisima is the former Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) secretary in 2005 and was part of the Hyatt 10. Prior to this, for five years, he was chairman and managing partner of SGV & Co. (1979-1984). He was also a member of the Global Executive Board and Global Practice Council of Ernst & Young.

Sec. Leila de Lima
Department of Justice

Atty. Leila de Lima was recently Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

De Lima is known as the fiery and very vocal head of the CHR, and was one of the very first people to speak out against the November 23 Maguindanao massacre that left 57 people dead including 31 journalists. Under her term, the CHR also took an active role in addressing the surge of extrajudicial killings that have plagued the country during the Arroyo administration.

A Political Science Major who graduated from De La Salle University in 1980, she placed eighth in the 1985 Bar Exam after earning her law degree from San Beda College in 1985.

Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Department of National Defense

General Voltaire Gazmin retired as a three-star general and is considered among the “most revered and respected” generals in the military circle for his professionalism.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1968, Gazmin served as commander of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) from 1986 to 1989, a tumultuous period when several coup attempts tried to topple former Pres. Cory Aquino's administration.

Gen. Gazmin served as Army chief during the Estrada administration and ex-Defense Attaché to Washington D.C.

He was also the custodial officer of the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., during the latter's incarceration in Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija.

Bro. Armin Luistro
Department of Education

Brother Armin Altamirano Luistro FSC is a Filipino La Salle Brother who is currently the President of De La Salle University-Manila and the Chief Executive Officer of De La Salle Philippines, Inc.

Bro. Armin Luistro, 48 is the second La Salle brother to take on the education portfolio in 12 years. (The late Br. Andrew Gonzalez served as President Joseph Estrada’s education secretary from 1998 to 2001.)

He graduated in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Letters, and from 1981 to 1985, he studied at the Ateneo de Manila University, earning master's degree units in Religious Education and from 1991 to 1993, he studied in the Master of Arts in Religious Education program of De La Salle University-Manila where he earned his MA degree.

In 1997, Luistro was named Brother Visitor (Brother Provincial) of the De La Salle Brothers in the Philippines, a position he held until 2003. In 2000, Luistro, together with the Bishop of Manado, Indonesia, Josef Suwatan founded Universitas Katolik De La Salle, also known as De La Salle Manado.

Sec. Florencio B. Abad
Department of Budget and Management

Florencio B. Abad is a former Representative of the Lone District of Batanes to the 8th (1987-1990), 10th, 11th, and 12th Philippine Congress (1995-2004). He was one of the advocates of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and later appointed Secretary of Agrarian Reform during the Aquino administration (January 4, 1990- April 5, 1990). In July 2004, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed him to the Department of Education as Secretary and served until July 2005. Abad was a member of the Hyatt 10 who resigned from the Arroyo cabinet in July 2005.

He finished his High School and Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Bachelor of Laws at the Ateneo de Manila University and passed the Bar in 1985. He completed his studies with Masters in Public Administration at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a student of the Edward Mason Program in Public Policy and Management.

He was a trade unionist of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) and Ateneo Workers College from 1976 to 1979, a Research director of the Ateneo Center for Social Policy and Public Affairs and a lecturer in the Graduate School of Business at Ateneo de Manila University.

Prof. Cayetano W. Paderanga Jr.
National Economic Development Authority

UP School of Economics Prof. Paderanga returns to the NEDA, where he once served as Director General. He was once a Member of the Monetary Board of the BSP, President of the Philippine Economics Society, and Chairman of the Foundation for Economic Freedom.

The UP Professor has studied and taught abroad, in schools like the University of Western Ontario, Stanford University, and Yale.

Once a columnist of the Philippine Star, Paderanga has also served as Executive Director of the AFTA Study Commission, Labor Advisor of the Ministry of Labour and Social Action State of Cambodia, Policy Advisor of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, and Coordinator of the Academic Policy Advisory Group of the Department of Trade and Industry.

Sec. Proceso Alcala
Department of Agriculture

Proceso “Procy” Alcala is a civil engineer by profession, a respected and multi awarded public servant, a businessman and advocate of organic agriculture, environmental conservation and countryside development. He is the 34th Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

Prior to his appointment, Secretary Alcala served for two terms as Representative of the 2nd District of Quezon Province (includes his hometown Lucena City, Candelaria, Dolores, San Antonio, Sariaya and Tiaong), from July 2004 to June 2010.

As a lawmaker, he authored three major legislations, the most notable of which is the Organic Agricultural Act of 2010. The two others are the Mounts Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape Act and the Hazardous and Radioactive Waste Management Act.

He also co-authored the Climate Change Act and  Expanded Senior Citizens Act.

During his six-year tenure, he served as Vice-Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, and Committee on Public Works and Highways.

One of the major projects he is popularly identified with is the establishment of the “Sentrong Pamilihan ng Produktong Agrikultura sa Quezon,” which since its operation has been providing a ready market for farmers and fishers, giving them assured and reasonable prices for their products, and affordable basic food commodities for consumers. He also vigorously supported the rehabilitation of the coconut industry, benefiting thousands of farmers and their families in Quezon.

He likewise initiated the “Procesong Gulay Para sa Masaganang Buhay” to further encourage vegetable production and consumption in his district and adjoining communities.

He also granted full scholarships to thousands of children of farmers -- to entice them into taking agriculture, agribusiness and related careers, and prove his point that there is indeed money in agriculture.

Secretary Alcala shares the vision of President Benigno "Noynoy" S. Aquino III of prosperous modern agri-fishery entrepreneurs creating more livelihood and income opportunities in their respective communities.

He is now working to revitalize the agri-fishery sector through the delivery of responsive, transparent and quality services, and the implementation of high-quality programs and people-centered policies.

At the heart of his development agenda is to attain rice self-sufficiency by 2013 so the country will no longer import its staple food and most important grain. 

Secretary Alcala completed his Civil Engineering degree at the Luzonian University Foundation. He and his wife, Corazon, are blessed with three children – Ingrid, Irvin (who now serves as the Representative of the 2nd District of Quezon) and Ivy – and four grandsons.

Sec. Ramon Paje
Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Secretary Ramon Paje is a Bachelor of Science in Forestry graduate of the University of the Philippines at Los Baños, College, Laguna (1977). He finished his M.A. in Urban and Regional Planning and Doctor of Public Administration at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. He has a Certificate on Environmental Economics and Policy Analysis from the Harvard University in Massachusetts, USA.

In 1996, Mon received the following awards: Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) from Philippine Jaycees, Outstanding Professional of the Philippines from the Professional Regulation Commission, and the Outstanding Alumnus in Government Service from the University of the Philippines at Los Baños. In 1999, he was the Dr. Jose Rizal Huwarang Pilipino Awardee for Public Service given by the Parangal ng Bayan Awards Foundation.

He has been with the government service particularly the environment and natural resources sector for more than 22 years and rose from the ranks serving the sector in various capacities including undersecretary for field operations, undersecretary for policy and technical services, undersecretary for environment and programs development, assistant secretary for management services, director for human resources development, among others.

Prior to his appointment as DENR Secretary, Paje is working as a Presidential Assistant on Mining, Executive Director of Minerals Development Council (MDC) and Chief of Staff, DENR in Concurrent Capacity likewise supervise for the Secretary National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

Sec. Jose “Ping” De Jesus
Department of Transportation and Communication

Jose "Ping" De Jesus is former president and chief operating officer of Meralco, Executive Director of the First Philippine Holdings Corporation, president and chief executive officer of the Manila North Tollways Corporation (MNTC), and Executive Vice President of the Philippine Long Distance Company.

De Jesus served as public works secretary from 1990 to 1993, under the administration of Aquino’s mother Corazon and that of ex-president Fidel Ramos.

An economics major with a master’s degree in Social Psychology at Ateneo de Manila University, he took graduate studies in Human Development before joining the civil service. De Jesus has worked in government for 20 years.

Sec. Rosalinda D. Baldoz
Department of Labor and Employment

Sec. Enrique T. Ona
Department of Health

Sec. Alberto Lim
Department of Tourism

Sec. Alberto “Bertie” Lim is a Palawan tourism veteran. Lim is the Executive Director of the Makati Business Club (MBC), whose members are composed of chief executive officers (CEOs) or ranking officials of the Philippines' largest corporations. He served as long-time president of Ten Knots Corporation, which operates the El Nido resorts in northern Palawan, until 2006. He is also the founding president of the Palawan Tourism Council.

The MBC takes a stand on political issues from time to time. At the height of the NBN-ZTE controversy, for example, the MBC called for the resignation of Lito Atienza and Romulo Neri for supposedly blocking whistleblower Jun Lozada from testifying at a Senate hearing. He is the brother of veteran broadcast journalist Cheche Lazaro.

Sec. Gregory Domingo
Department of Trade
Sec. Gregory L. Domingo was an Executive Director of SM Investments Corporation.

He holds a Master’s Degree in Operations Research from Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania as well as a master’s degree in Business Management from the Asian Institute of Management. Domingo began his Ateneo education in the 7th grade staying on until the completion of his degree in BS Management Engineering in 1977.

He has served as Undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry and Vice Chairman of the Board of Investments and as board member of several government-owned and controlled corporations.

He was also formerly President of Carmelray-JTCI Corporation and Managing Director of Chemical Bank in New York and Chase Manhattan Bank in Manila.

Sec. Corazon Juliano “Dinky” N. Soliman
Department of Social Welfare and Development

Corazon “Dinky” Soliman once held the post of DSWD Secretary before resigning from the Arroyo Cabinet in 2005.

Prior to her appointment as DSWD Secretary, Soliman was Executive Vice-President of Community Organizers Multiversity as well as Executive Director of CO-TRAIN. She pioneered in developing a rural organizing program as a trainor and coordinator in Bukidnon under the auspices of the Social Action Center (SAC) of Bukidnon way back in 1976.

Soliman graduated from UP Diliman with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Social Work . At UP she was a University Scholar and a Gerry Roxas Leadership Awardee; she copped 5th place in the 1974 National Board Examinations for Social Workers.

In 1998, she finished her Master in Public Administration degree at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Soliman is also a recipient of countless awards and citations in the field of social work and community development, most notably as one of the Ten Outstanding Women in the Nation's Service Awardee and the Most Distinguished Alumnus Award from the UP.

Sec. Mario Montejo
Department of Science and Technology

Dr. Mario Montejo obtained his BS Mechanical Engineering degree at University of the Philippines-Diliman in 1975.

Dr. Montejo is also the CEO of Tree Top Adventure. Tree Top Adventure Philippines (TTA), the Subic-based company that operates canopy ride, Superman ride, Silver Surfer and Interactive Free Fall at Camp John Hay.

Sec. Jose Rene Almendras
Department of Energy

A Cebuano, was Director of the Manila Water Company since March 30, 2009 and became the President also on March 30, 2009.

He joined the Manila Water Co. on January 1, 2007 as a Group Director for Business. He was previously connected with Ayala Land, Inc. as a member of the Management Committee and concurrently Head of the Visayas Mindanao Business and Operations Transformation Group. He was President and CEO of Cebu Holdings, Inc. and Cebu Property Ventures and Development Corp., both publicly listed companies managed by the Ayala Land Group.

Almendras obtained his Business Management degree from the Ateneo de Manila University and completed the Strategic Business Economics Program in the University of Asia and the Pacific.

Atty. Virgilio “Gil” de los Reyes
Department of Agrarian Reform

Gil de los Reyes is a lawyer with extensive experience in public policy research and formulation and in managing private enterprises and government bureaucracies.

Atty. Gil de los Reyes is the Vice Dean of the College of Law of and teaches Business Law in the MBA program of the De La Salle University. He is a founding member of LIBERTAS, an association of lawyers focused on human rights and judicial reform, and a former volunteer community organizer.

He has a Masters in International Relations from the Tuft University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford, Massachusetts 2007-2008. He has fellowship at the University of Minnesota under its International Trade and Human Rights, 2003-2004. The University of Minnesota was the host of the US State Department Fellowship Program.

He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, 1979-1983 and Bachelor of Laws from the University of the Philippines 1984-1990. He finished high school in La Salle Green Hills.

Atty. de los Reyes was DAR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, Legal Affairs and Vice-Chairman Adjudication Board, January 2001-February 2003. He directed the legal division of the Department, served as the primary legal adviser of the Secretary and administered the quasi-judicial functions of the Department with a total personnel complement of 1,500 employees nationwide.

Sec. Rogelio Singson
Department of Public Works and Highways

On 1 July 2007, Mr. Rogelio L. Singson assumed office as the 5th President of the Maynilad Water Services, Inc. (MWSI) and the first under the company’s new management.

Rogelio L. Singson was President and CEO of Maynilad Water Services, Inc., the largest water concessionaire in the Philippines with close to 9 million potential consumers.

Prior to joining Maynilad Water, Singson’s extensive experience in both government and private sector in the field of privatization and public-private partnership cover major privatizations of the Philippines . As former Chairman and President of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) of the Philippines, these public-private partnerships include the conversion of former military baselands (Clark, Subic, John Hay, Poro Point, Fort Bonifacio and Villamor bases) from military use to private commercial and industrial uses as special economic and Freeport zones, tollroads and expressway, water and power utilities privatization, airports, seaports and resorts. He was directly involved in the conceptualization and implementation of the biggest government property privatization (Fort Bonifacio Development) in the country.

Singson obtained his Bachelors Degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of the Philippines , Diliman, in 1971 and attended a Degree Program in Public and Business Management. He has also attended training courses and conferences on Public-Private Partnership and BOT Financing.

Ms. Julia Andrea Abad
Presidential Management Staff

Julia Abad is the Chief of Staff of President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, Jr. and a member of the transition team.

A former Program Officer of the Asia Pacific Philanthropy Consortium, she completed her BA degree at the Ateneo de Manila University before earning her Masters in Public Policy at Harvard University’s he Kennedy School of Government.

In 2006, Julia Abad was a consultant of the Gearing up Internet Literacy and Access for Students or "GILAS" program. GILAS is a recent beneficiary of Google Grants, which offers free advertising space to selected non-profit organizations on Through this Google program, GILAS has provided in-kind keyword advertising to help the project attract people to their website.

Julia Abad is a political science professor at Ateneo and a Fulbright alumna of Harvard University.

Atty. Edwin Lacierda

Atty. Eduardo V. De Mesa
Presidential Legal Counsel

Eduardo V. De Mesa heads the Labor and Litigation Departments of the Carag, De Mesa and Zaballero Law Firm. He is a seasoned litigator and has extensive experience in tax, commercial, civil, criminal and administrative litigation. His tax litigation experience includes successful representation of clients before the Court of Tax Appeals, Court of Appeals and/or the Supreme Court on matters involving tax assessments, claims for tax refunds and tax exemptions. His labor law practice includes collective bargaining negotiations, settlement of strikes and other labor disputes, employee disciplinary actions, labor law advisory services and labor litigation. Atty. De Mesa also practices election and immigration law.

Atty. De Mesa received his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1985 from the University of the Philippines where he graduated in the top 10 of his class and was a member of the Order of the Purple Feather Honor Society. He obtained a degree in Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Sto. Tomas in 1974. He passed the National Teachers Examination in 1977 and was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1986.

He is presently a Commissioner on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). He is also a member and an accredited arbitrator of the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc.

Dr. Patricia B. Licuanan
Commission on Higher Education

Dr. Licuanan, a Filipino psychologist and educator, is a former President of Miriam College, Chief Executive Officer of the Forum in English of Philippine Business for Education at the Asian Institute of Management, and Trustee of the Center for Asia Pacific Women in Politics. She actively participates in research, training, and advocacy work in applied social psychology, education, and educational reform, human resource development, and gender issues in the Philippines. She is also a recognized leader in advocating gender equality.

Licuanan was a professor and chairman of the Department of Psychology, and academic vice-president of the Ateneo de Manila University, Manila, Philippines. During her academic tenure, she championed gender equality and instituted sensitivity training regarding the sexual harassment of women. She is a recognized leader in advocating for gender equality in the Asia Pacific region.

Among the commissions she has chaired are the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW), and Southeast Asia Watch: Eyes on the Beijing Platform for Action (SEAWatch).

Ms. Kim Jacinto Henares
Bureau of Internal Revenue

Kim Jacinto-Henares previously served as BIR deputy commissioner for special concerns during the Arroyo administration. During her stay in the BIR, she headed the "Run After Tax Evaders" (RATE) operation, which attracted the public's attention when cases were filed against celebrities Judy Ann Santos, Regine Velasquez, and Richard Gomez.

She worked for the BIR around the same time that Cesar Purisima, who was part of President Aquino's inner circle, was finance secretary. The BIR is one of the attached agencies of the DOF.

She recently served as senior private sector development specialist at the International Finance Corporation (IFC)/World Bank.

Teresita "Ging" Quintos-Deles
Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process

Teresita “Ging” Deles previously occupied the same post from 2003 to 2005. She was among the 10 Cabinet and senior government officials who withdrew their support from Arroyo during the height of the "Hello, Garci" scandal.

Prior to her appointment at the OPAPP, Ging Deles was the Lead Convenor (Cabinet rank) of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) from 2001-2003.

She is a colleague of incoming NAPC Lead Convenor Imelda Nicolas at the INCITEGov. Ging Deles serves as Executive Director and Managing Trustee.

Her areas of expertise are peace process and conflict resolution, women’s issues, civil society issues and processes, and security sector reform.