Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas yesterday urged the government to seek out new talents with great potential to improve the delivery of public services. At the oath-taking ceremony for the newly-appointed Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Undersecretary Benedicto Ernesto R. Bitonio Jr., Sto. Tomas told other DOLE officials and middle managers that selecting good people for government service would ensure better services to the public.

She said all her undersecretaries are career-service officials. And DOLE is probably the only government department whose senior officials are career-service ones, she said.

“It only goes to show that the DOLE recognizes performance,” she said.

The DOLE Secretary recalled that just like her, Bitonio rose from the ranks. Both Sto. Tomas and Bitonio just applied for vacant positions advertised in the newspapers thinking then that the post had already been secured for someone else “inside”. They went through a series of tests, but they were finally appointed.

In relation to this, Sto. Tomas encouraged her senior officials and division heads, some of whom were present to witness Bitonio’s oath-taking, to seek out new talents with great potential. She told them to ensure that DOLE will have good material right from the start. Once we have selected good people, they can build a career in the department, she said.

“Kung meron kang mahusay na ginagawa, you will eventually be recognized. This past year,” she said, “people were promoted to third-level positions (i.e., bureau directors) from within the department.”

Before his appointment as undersecretary, Bitonio served as director of the Bureau of Labor Relations in 1994, and assistant secretary since 2000, during which time he handled regional operations, internal affairs, and most recently, policy and program support. He first joined the DOLE as a senior labor and employment officer (LEO) in 1988.

He earned his A.B. and law degrees from the University of the Philippines in 1982 and 1989, respectively. He also finished his Master in Public Management from the National University of Singapore (NUS) under the Lee Kuan Yew Fellowship program, where he attended both the NUS and Harvard University. He graduated at the top of his class and receivedbthe Lee Kuan Yew Prize for best student and WyWy gold medal for best paper. He is also a professorial lecturer at the UP Graduate School of Labor and Industrial Relations (SOLAIR).

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