Sen. Bam’s co-sponsorship speech on appointment of Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat

Dear colleagues, campaigning for relatives is a common experience for most, if not all of us here today.

In my case, during the 1987 and the 1992 senatorial elections, I campaigned for my uncle, former senator Butz Aquino.

Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat, whom I call Ate Berna, was campaigning for her father, former senator Bert Romulo.

I was 9 at the time, and she was maybe 15 or 16. And from then, until today, I consider her a big sister.

In that group of youth volunteers, campaigning for our respective relatives, she was, in many ways, everyone’s Ate.

Through the years, Berna Romulo-Puyat has had different professions. And she has excelled in all of them – despite being underestimated because of her looks and because she is a woman.

While Ate Berna is definitely petit in stature, she is definitely not petit in competence.

In fact, she earned a reputation as a terror prof in UP, much like her mentor Mareng Winnie Monsod.

She would shock her students by sitting in the back of the classroom, blending in as one of the students, while they spoke candidly about her and her class, only to reveal belatedly, that she was the professor.

As Undersecretary for Special Concerns at the Department of Agriculture, she didn’t just visit and speak to farmers, she worked with them, planting rice on the rice terraces and harvesting coffee beans in Bukidnon.

Capable, passionate and inspired, she linked farmers to markets and institutional buyers here and abroad. She also used Madrid Fusion as a venue to showcase the produce of Filipino farmers made delicious by out local cooks… to the delight of foreign chefs and gourmands.

Now, Sec. Berna is challenged to whip the Department of Tourism into shape, after the alarming reports of corruption and patronage in the agency.

She’s tasked with the sustainable development of own our tourism industry, and with getting local and foreign tourists to be just as enthusiastic as she is about the wonders of the Philippines.

We are confident she is up to the task and will get the job done!

For those who doubt her abilities, allow me to use her brother Erwin’s words:

You underestimate Berna at your own peril.

With that, Mr. Majority Leader, Mr. President, let me state my full support for the confirmation of the ad interim appointment of Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat as the Secretary of our Department of Tourism.

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