While still “overwhelmed” by her appointment as the new Tourism chief, Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat on Wednesday said she looks forward to continuing the initiatives started by her predecessor.
“We’ve been working with them (DOT) with regard to farm tourism, that’s been their main project with the DA, so might as well continue that,” she said in a television interview.
Romulo-Puyat said President Rodrigo R. Duterte had one instruction when he offered her the job: No corruption.
“I am overwhelmed, but honored that he actually thought of me and thought (about) giving me the position. I will not disappoint him,” she vowed.
At first, the DA executive did not want to believe Duterte when he candidly put forward the position for grab.
“He told me, ‘Have you heard that Secretary Teo resigned?’ I said I’ve read about it, then he said ‘I think you are fit for the job,'” Romulo-Puyat said.
“(President Duterte) went to another room and former Senator Serge Osmeña was there, then he goes ‘Serge Osmena meet the new DOT Secretary’… then SAP Bong Go congratulated me, that’s when it started to sink in, it is true,” she said.
Following Tuesday’s resignation of embattled Wanda Tulfo-Teo as Tourism chief amid the controversial PHP60-million advertisement deal between DOT and state-run network PTV-4, Romulo-Puyat went to Malacañang for her DA report, with no inkling she will be appointed to lead the DOT hours later.
She stressed she was in Malacañang “for Department of Agriculture work.”
“I couldn’t believe it because we had a meeting in Malacañang, and we were talking about agriculture. I was updating him on the rice situation then he suddenly asked me,” Romulo-Puyat added.
As of posting, no date for her oath-taking was revealed yet, but once the process is done, Romulo-Puyat said she will meet with DOT officials to discuss the agency’s programs.
“We should continue what programs are already working and what I am familiar with, but of course, I am still in shock now, I am going to wait for the oath-taking and meet with officials of the DOT and we’ll see how it goes from there,” the incoming DOT chief vowed. (