CA confirms Bernadette Romulo Puyat as tourism secretary

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday, May 30, confirmed the appointment of Bernadette Romulo Puyat as secretary of the Department of Tourism (DOT).

The new DOT chief gave lawmakers assurances that tourism "will be an engine" for investments, employment, and national development.

She also vowed "to prioritize improving policies on access, connectivity, and security as well as enhance programs on tourism infrastructure."

Puyat was appointed as tourism chief after then-DOT secretary Wanda Teo resigned. Teo quit after it was revealed that the tourism department paid the state-run People's Television Network P60 million  for advertisements that were placed on the show of her brothers, Ben and Erwin Tulfo.

On Tuesday, May 29, Puyat faced the CA panel, which, in under 3 minutes, recommended her confirmation. 

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri vouched for Puyat's integrity on Tuesday, saying that she can "change the system of government."

"I've known her for a very long time. If there's one person who has my vote to being part of government service because of her integrity and hard work, it's no other than Berna Romulo Puyat," Zubiri said.

Meanwhile, Senator Cynthia Villar lauded Puyat's advocacy in agriculture.

"Berna came from the Department of Agriculture and she has done a lot for agriculture.... Now she is in tourism and she is championing agri-tourism and farm tourism, so we are very supportive of that," Villar said on Tuesday.

Prior to her appointment, Puyat had served 3 administrations in the agriculture department. She had been an undersecretary for administration, agribusiness and marketing, and regional engagement at the DA since July 2017. 

Under the Aquino administration, she was the undersecretary for special concerns at the agriculture department.

Puyat also served as former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's deputy Cabinet secretary and as a consultant with the Presidential Management Staff.

Puyat is a daughter of former senator and current Development Bank of the Philippines chairman Alberto Romulo. She is also the grandniece of former United Nations General Assembly president Carlos P. Romulo.

She has undergraduate and masteral degrees in economics from the University of the Philippines, where she taught for 9 years.

In a statement on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque welcomed the CA's confirmation of Puyat, as well as of Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, and Commission on Elections Commissioner Socorro Inting.

"The confirmation of the aforementioned officials reflects the full confidence [in] the competence and integrity of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's recent appointees. It's time to work, work, work to realize the President's vision of a comfortable life for all Filipinos," said Roque. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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