Foreign Service Insider

A frank and open forum on the Philippine Foreign Service and how it affects the lives of millions of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

Thursday, June 22, 2006

GMA appoints Justice Arturo D. Brion Labor Secretary

The appointment of Court of Appeals Justice Arturo D. Brion as the new Secretary of Labor and Employment to replace outgoing Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas is welcome news. From the time Malacanang announced GMA's acceptance of the resignation of Sec Pat, Justice Brion was "primus inter pares" among the names Secretary Sto. Tomas submitted as her possible replacement. These aspirants included Cerge Remonde, head of the Government Mass Media Group, and Arthur Yap, head of the Presidential Management Staff and concurrent presidential adviser on jobs creation.

Brion is eminently qualified for the job. He topped the 1975 Bar examination, and takes with him a wealth of experience and a sterling record in the Labor Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs. Having served as Undersecretary in both the DFA and DOLE, he will have the institutional knowledge to spearhead the Philippine government's OFW program, a major pillar of our foreign policy. Furthermore, he is a legal luminary whose experience in the Court of Appeals will be very useful in dealing with the arbitration aspects of the labor portfolio.

Not many people know this, but Brion was the point man who set up and implemented the Overseas Absentee Voting Secretariat (OAVS) when he was Undersecretary for Special Concerns under the late DFA Secretary Blas Ople. It was a complicated task that Brion undertook and successfully implemented before he bowed out of the DFA snakepit in June 2003, to join the Judiciary as associate justice of the appellate court. He had to fend off ferocious resistance and gutter-sniping, which is par for the course in the DFA, in order to set up the absentee voting system. He never took credit for this achievement.

Frankly, in this dark era of murky politics that we live in, Brion's appointment is like a lucid interval. Since the Garci tapes, and with the threat of coups and impeachment hanging over her head, GMA's decisions have been driven by only one consideration: her political survival. For a while there, it looked like she could use the the DOLE position as a carrot to hold over congress and senate in her political struggles. Thank goodness she did not bow to political pressures.

The OFWs can now look to Secretary-designate Art Brion, to safeguard their interests and well-being. I wish him well.

1 Comments:

Blogger Toots Ople said...

thanks for writing about then DFA Usec Brion's hard work in overseeing the first OAV registration in Philippine history. having worked briefly with my dad and Art Brion, I can safely say that our brief stint at the DFA was truly an unforgettable experience. keep blogging!

4:22 AM  

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