Newly appointed Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has ordered all of the department’s undersecretaries and assistant secretaries to submit their courtesy resignations but claimed that she is retaining one — Undersecretary Bong Bengzon.
“He is a career official. He’s been there for about 32-33 years so definitely he will stay,” said tourism chief Romulo-Puyat.
In a separate interview, Puyat assured all officials that while they were requested to submit their courtesy resignations the same move done by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra in his department, all undersecretaries and assistant secretaries should not be fearful on losing their appointed positions.
“This afternoon, I also asked for the [courtesy] resignations of all the usecs and the asecs. But of course, it does not mean they will be out [of DOT],” Romulo-Puyat added.
Romulo-Puyat stressed out that a number of undersecretaries and assistant secretaries have voluntarily submitted their courtesy resignations. The senior officials were given until next week to submit their courtesy resignations.
The tourism brass said that the reassignment of positions will based on their performance and whether those undersecretaries and assistant secretaries fit her vision for the DOT. “And maybe who knows? Some of them might not want to work with me,” Romulo-Puyat said.
She also does not want to remove all officials immediately even if she lawfully has the right to fire them because the department of tourism is in the middle of most important time of the year — “budget season.”
Apart from keeping Bengzon onboard the Romulo-Puyat administration, the tourism boss also plans to appoint former DOT Regional Director and Assistant Secretary Arturo Boncato Jr. as undersecretary.
“I only met him last Friday and I was very impressed with his credentials. This man already knows the Department of Tourism inside out so I offered him the undersecretary post,” Romulo-Puyat said.
The former undersecretary at the Department of Agriculture also added that she will check every contract that was inked because she will be the sole liable when she would implement irregular projects.
Moreover, Romulo-Puyat has also arranged a meeting with Cesar Montano, the Tourism Promotions Board chief operating officer, to personally ask him on the P80-million full payment for the “Buhay Carinderia” project, one of the Philippine government’s food tourism initiatives, even as the program has yet to be concluded. The project also did not go through the bidding process.
“First, I would like to ask him with regard to his budget, was there a proper bidding? Did you just give this to an organizer?” Romulo-Puyat stated. “Because I would be very bothered if this was given to a friend,” she added.
Romulo-Puyat also divulged that she has already talked with the former broadcaster Tourism Undersecretary Kat de Castro over the matter of allegedly hiring her boyfriend’s band for a tourism event. “She told me that there was never a time government money was used to hiring,” Romulo-Puyat said.
“With Wanda Teo, it was more ‘be careful of everything you sign’,” she said. Romulo-Puyat said that at the end of the day, money is not important but your reputation. — The Centrio News