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New man at the helm

ANGEL THOUGHTS
“One song can change a moment, one idea can change the world. One step can start a journey but a prayer can change even the impossible.”—Anonymous

“Let’s make each day count.” This is the battle cry of the new Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) secretary Adrian “Che” Cristobal, Jr. So, no “just cruising along” for the DTI team that former secretary Greg Domingo left behind when he resigned to go back to the private sector. Innovation and reform is the way to go, says Sec. Che, to build on the things that are already there and improve on them for continuity and predictability. These are essential to a good trade and business environment.

Sec. Adrian 'Che' Cristobal, Jr., the author, and the Bulong Pulungan core group members Frank Evaristo, Beth Tagle, Aida Sevilla, Jullie Yap Daza, Joy Fong. Ducky Paredes, Rina Jimenez David, Chay Santiago, Domini Torrevillas, and Mandy Navasero. (Image by Sandee Masigan)

Sec. Adrian ‘Che’ Cristobal, Jr., the author, and the Bulong Pulungan core group members Frank Evaristo, Beth Tagle, Aida Sevilla, Jullie Yap Daza, Joy Fong. Ducky Paredes, Rina Jimenez David, Chay Santiago, Domini Torrevillas, and Mandy Navasero. (Image by Sandee Masigan)

Sec. Che is not bothered by the fact that he is co-terminus with President Noynoy Aquino who bows out in less than six months. Being secretary is easy to give up. He can just go back to the academe (He taught law in his alma mater, Ateneo Law School) and his law practice. He has launched several programs and policies in the Board of Investments and the Intellectual Property Office and saw the adoption of the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) for more and better quality jobs. He also assumed primary responsibility for the formulation and implementation of policies and programs on industry development, investment, and trade to help build the country’s competitiveness.

Two Bulong Pulungan core group celebrants Chay Santiago and Rina David receive bouquets from Sec. Che Cristobal. (Image by Mandy Navasero)

Two Bulong Pulungan core group celebrants Chay Santiago and Rina David receive bouquets from Sec. Che Cristobal. (Image by Mandy Navasero)

Enabling business and empowering consumers were the focus of Cristobal in his early years in DTI, resulting in the popular and multi-awarded radio program Konsyumer at Iba Pa. For him, DTI’s charge to protect consumer rights should not just be there to resolve consumer complaints but also to reduce the need for them. Thus, he is committed to go beyond mere vigilance and promote a culture of quality by actively promoting quality consciousness among consumers, producers, and traders.

He first joined the government during the term of President Fidel V. Ramos as special assistant to the secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government. After, he went back to practicing and teaching law—established his own law practice, taught politics and governance at the Ateneo School of Government, and served as adviser to heads of several government agencies such as the National Security Council and the Department of Agrarian Reform, among others. He went back to public service in 2001 as an undersecretary and chief of staff of the DTI secretary. From 2005 to 2009, he served as director general of the Intellectual Property Office where he pushed for a developmental approach to intellectual property. It was also during his stint that the Philippines was removed from the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Priority watch list through sustained IPR enforcement in collaboration with other government agencies.

In 2010, he was DTI’s undersecretary for International Trade, responsible for the country’s international trade policy and negotiations, including export promotions that help micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). These, he believes, is the “core of our policies, programs, and activities.” He also pointed out that our local shipbuilding industry was already fourth in the world, and he wants to see it even stronger and bigger. This industry translates to more jobs, he added.

When he arrived at our venue in our partner hotel, Sofitel, Cristobal was greeted with “I knew your dad” from the core group including our editor, Cris Icban, Jr. He took the “Bulong” portion of our forum with grace and wit, reminding us again of his dad, the great intellectual, presidential speechwriter, playwright, journalist, and public servant Adrian Cristobal, Sr. “The DTI will also work closely with the Bureau of Customs on making cross-border trade for MSMEs easier, specifically setting up a “super green lane,” establishing an accreditation system for what is known as “authorized economic operators” or “trusted traders,” simplifying the processes for obtaining certificates of origin under our free trade agreements, and other trade facilitation measures specified in the Boracay action agenda.” Customs commissioner Bert Lina happily confirmed this.

With the second year of the Go Negosyo Act, DTI, with the cooperation of other government agencies and LGUs around the country, will set up 100 Negosyo Centers to provide assistance and services. They want to achieve long-term inclusive growth and much needed quality employment so as to sustain the competitiveness of the country and the manufacturing resurgence.