Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, a long-time Department of Agriculture official, will now head the tourism department following an on-the-spot appointment by President Rodrigo Duterte Tuesday.
Puyat related how she initially thought that Duterte was joking when he offered her the post during a meeting concerning the National Food Authority in Malacañang.
“Wanda resigned, do you want the job? You are a good fit for the job. Your credentials speak for themselves,” she quoted the president in the report.
Former tourism secretary Wanda Teo resigned following the controversies around an advertising deal between People’s Television Network Inc. and Bitag Media Unlimited Inc., owned by her brother Ben Tulfo.
“I am overwhelmed by the appointment,” Puyat was quoted as saying.
Public service history
She first taught in the University of the Philippines School of Economics for nine years before serving as the DA’s undersecretary for administration, agribusiness and marketing, and regional engagement in 2017.
She had served former presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III, mostly in the agriculture department.
Before being involved with agriculture, the University of the Philippines alumna worked as a consultant to the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) during the Arroyo administration in 2005.
Puyat said that it was former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, then director-general of PMS, who suggested to her to become part of the agriculture department.
She became the undersecretary for special concerns in Aquino’s term, during which she devoted her time in gender and development projects for women in rural areas like Samar, Bukidnon, Camarines Sur, and Davao.
In 2017, Puyat slowly gained fame after being interviewed in publications like Metro Society and Town and Country where she opened up more of herself, particularly in coping with the loss of her husband of 16 years, who died of a heart attack in 2010.
Congratulations and doubts
While she has yet to take her oath as new DOT chief, many people on social media welcomed Puyat as a new Cabinet member.
“President Duterte appoints Agriculture Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat as the new Tourism chief.”
Partially explains the cameo appearance of her dad in the April 17, 2018 Cabinet meeting pictures. pic.twitter.com/tUEHki5BGZ
— Manuel L. Quezon III (@mlq3) May 9, 2018
Meanwhile, there are those who saw malice in why Duterte chose her for the job.
I do not know if bakit siya ang piniling DOT Secretary (Bernadette Romulo Puyat) pero just last year, she is a victim of misogyny. ? pic.twitter.com/947QVEW0Q7
— JP Tanyag (@dumidyeypee) May 8, 2018
Bernadette Romulo Puyat has been an agriculture usec since July 2017. Served as usec for special concerns – DAR during Aquino admin, and consultant at the PMS during Arroyo. She has been visible in some of D30’s events, where the President would expressed his fondness for her. pic.twitter.com/8en3UdI1Ho
— SyLicoNgaAko 裏科 (@SyLicoNgaAko) May 8, 2018
Puyat is one of the children of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo. She is the sister of Cong. Roman Romulo and the great granddaughter of Carlos P. Romulo.