MANILA, July 2 – Career service shines even more for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with President Benigno C. Aquino III’s appointment of a forester who took over Friday the agency’s top post from a mining engineer.
Newly-appointed Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, a top-rank Career Executive Service Officer, replaced Horacio Ramos, a fellow career officer, in a simple turnover ceremony held on Friday at the DENR Social Hall in Quezon City.
It was witnessed by a huge crowd of DENR officials and employees, including former officials of the Department and industry organizations.
In his speech that needed no cue cards, Paje shared the President’s “marching orders” in implementing six of the DENR’s major programs: Clean air and water especially in Metro Manila and in other urban centers; <br>Land productivity; <br>Enhancement of forest and marine resources with the completion of the delineation of forestline boundaries; <br>An honest-to-goodness climate change mitigation, adaptation and anticipation program; and <br>Well-defined and effective anti-corruption measures.
“President Aquino won through a people’s campaign, and we will have to implement our programs through people’s participation,” Paje said, adding that as much as 40 percent of the environmental problems would be solved by enlisting the cooperation of the people.
Outgoing Secretary Ramos congratulated Paje on his appointment, saying that he “expects the same level of dedication from Paje in the pursuit of the President’s agenda of change.”
“Paje’s appointment comes with a very big challenge of people’s expectations for reforms,” Ramos said. “This could usher in a new wave of environmental vigilance and activism.”
DENR Employees Union President Atty. Camilo Garcia likewise hailed Pres. Aquino’s move to appoint a secretary from the ranks as it “gives hope to ordinary employees and serves as an inspiration that we, too, can someday head the agency.”
“Under Paje’s leadership, we will stand to Pres. Aquino’s challenge for public officers to show their worth,” Garcia said.
“Our employees have always risked life and limb being at the forefront of fighting violators of environmental laws, and we will continue doing so just to help deliver the goods for the DENR.”
Guests and well-wishers included former environment secretaries Victor Ramos, Heherson Alvarez and Ricardo Umali; environmental lawyer and Ramon Magsaysay awardee Antonio Oposa Jr., and other former DENR officials.
Giving a peak into his management style, Paje said he will carry a leadership ethics marked with consultation, as shown by Ramos and his other predecessors whom he had the privilege of serving.
“I will be a listening secretary. I will afford everyone dissent,” he said, adding that Ramos’ ability to be a good and firm listener was a quality of a good leader.
Before his appointment as the DENR’s 19th secretary, Paje was the agency’s Undersecretary for Field Operations and the concurrent Executive Director of the Minerals Development Council under the Office of the President.
Paje’s ascension to the post marks only the second time in the DENR’s 23-year history to have the proverbial “bottom-to-top” success by a rank-and-file employee.
His 28-year career span started in 1982 as a junior forester conducting field inspection of reforestation projects of then Bureau of Forest Development (now Forest Management Bureau).
He has then occupied various positions such as senior forester, service director, and assistant secretary prior to his appointment as undersecretary in 1998.
A recipient of a government scholarship, Paje graduated with a degree in BS Forestry in 1982 at the UP Los Baños. He then earned his masters in Urban and Regional Planning from UP-Diliman, and his doctorate in Public Administration in the same school.
He has likewise taken short courses in Harvard University in Massachussets, USA and the Australian National University in Canberra.
Paje has also received various awards, including a Dr. Jose Rizal Huwarang Pilipino Award for Public Service in 1999, and being cited by the Philippine Jaycees as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men in 1996. (PNA Features) <br>vcs/JCA