Inquirer.net : Laguesma: Returning to DOLE a ‘tough’ choice but also a ‘chance of a lifetime’

By Christia Marie Ramos | Inquirer.net

MANILA, Philippines — Former Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma on Tuesday described returning to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as a “tough decision,” but claimed it was also a “chance of a lifetime” to once again serve in the government.

In an ANC interview, Laguesma recalled having started his work in the government under the presidency of late Ferdinand Marcos, the father of presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

“I started my career in the Department of Labor and Employment under former president Ferdinand Marcos. I continued under the stewardship of [former] president Cory Aquino, [former] president [Fidel] Ramos and then [former] president [Joseph] Estrada as secretary of labor and employment,” he said.

Laguesma recently accepted the offer to take the helm of DOLE under the incoming administration.

“It’s really a privilege and I’m deeply indebted for the opportunity to be of service to the country. It’s really a tough decision because… I could have just opted to stay as a private citizen and just watch from the sideline. But it’s not so easy to say no to a president-elect who to my impression is really sincere in trying to really put together all plans and programs that can benefit the entire Filipino nation,” he said.

“And being considered is really something which could be considered a chance of a lifetime to once again serve the government. [It’s] not an easy decision,” he added, but said he has the support of his family.

“I offer myself again and hopefully I should be the one proper and fit to head the department once more,” he added.

However, Laguesma admitted being apprehensive of taking the offer at first, citing his old age.

He recalled telling the presumptive president that there are other choices who are younger and have more stamina than him.

“Sabi ko ‘Mr. President, I think mas maraming magagaling, mas maraming bata na may stamina. Di kagaya ko na senior citizen na.’ Pero tumawa lang si president-elect BBM, I think maybe, saying na ‘yes, you might have aged, but maybe you still have some energy left in you that can help propel again not just the department, but our country as a whole,’” Laguesma said.

(I told him “Mr. President, I think there are others who are better, younger and have more stamina than me. Unlike me who is a senior citizen already.” But the president-elect just laughed it off, I think he’s maybe, saying that “yes you might have aged, but maybe you still have some energy left in you that can help propel again not just the department, but our country as a whole.”)

Aside from being a former labor chief, Laguesma also previously headed the Social Security System.

Laguesma is joining the growing list of former and incumbent public officials being tapped by Marcos to join his Cabinet, among them is presumptive vice president Sara Duterte-Carpio, who accepted the offer to lead the Department of Education.

Marcos has also recently tapped Cavite 7th District Rep. Boying Remulla to take the helm of the Department of Justice.