The Development Academy of the Philippines now can breathe easier. Fresh from its celebration of its 45th founding anniversary over the previous week, the government’s premier research and training institution now has the three highest positions in its ranks finally filled up with the recent election of its top three officers during the meeting of its Board of Trustees.
Elected as the Academy’s ninth president was Atty. Engelbert “Jojo” Caronan Jr. Becoming the DAP’s 16th board chair, meanwhile, was Civil Service Commission Chair Alicia de la Rosa-Bala while being voted as the DAP’s vice chair was the Office of the President’s Deputy Executive Secretary for General Administration Mc Jill Bryant Fernandez.
Caronan, 45, takes over the DAP presidency that had been vacant since President Duterte discontinued the holdover status of then-President Elba S. Cruz on December 18, 2017. DAP Senior Vice President Magdalena L. Mendoza had served as the Academy’s officer in charge since that time.
Caronan comes at a time when the DAP is at a crossroads in its history following Cruz’s turbulent nine-month tenure. A law graduate of Arellano Law Foundation in 1998, the Cagayan native also completed his political science degree at the Far Eastern University in 1993 before starting his law studies at San Beda College that same year. He finished his Masters in National Security Administration in 2017 at the National Defense College of the Philippines, completing his thesis entitled “A Grounded Theory Study of the Perceptions of Peace Practitioners on Interfaith Dialogue in Mindanao.”
Caronan has had extensive experience as an executive in government, having served as mayor of Tuguegarao City from 2014-2015, vice mayor of the same city from 2015-2016, and a three-term councilor of the city from 2004-2013 while having also served as provincial legal officer and an officer at the Public Attorney’s Office before assuming those elective positions. He has also served as a professor of law at the Philippine Christian University, Arellano Law Foundation, University of Cagayan Valley and Cagayan State University.
Bala, on the other hand, follows a long line of predecessors on the DAP Board that include now-Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra and the late National Economic and Development Authority Director-General Cayetano W. Paderanga Jr. She has served as the CSC chair since October 2015, having been confirmed by the Commission on Appointments in December 2015. Prior to her CSC appointment, she served as Undersecretary for Policy and Plans of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, a department she served for 39 years.
A cum laude graduate in social work at the Centro Escolar University in 1972, Bala also took up her Master in Social Work at the University of the Philippines in 1978 and has garnered awards at the professional and academic levels, including the Outstanding Escolarina in 2016, the Gawad CES Award in 2012, the First Best Manager Award at the DSWD in 2004, and the Distinguished Alumna honors at the CEU in 2001.
Fernandez, meanwhile, is the current officer in charge of the Office of the DESGA. A political science graduate of University of the Philippines-Manila, Fernandez passed the bar examinations in 2009. He was once connected with the Tolentino Corvera Macasaet and Reig Law Office where he became one of the intellectual property attorneys who completed the training courses on the Madrid Protocol in 2012. – Bert A. Ramirez