‘Fair dealings, para sa bayan’

Posted on November 7, 2012

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AS the highest ranking Cebuano in the executive department, Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras has direct access to the President and authority that some quarters would expect would give Cebu an edge , for example, in getting a share of projects or some other political strategic advantage.

Not so, said Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, his eldest sister.

“He’s very fair,” said Magpale. “He wouldn’t do something just to favor Cebu over other groups.”

When it comes to getting a job done, Almendras would rather be the “invisible” workhorse who lets other people take the limelight, a personal style noticed from his corporate days in Cebu to his unexpected Malacañang stint.

Photos of the President’s trips abroad, for example, rarely show Almendras in the same frame but he’s there; his opinon on a variety of official matters is often sought by Aquino which required Almendras to spend more time in Malacañang even while he was Energy Secretary.

Magpale recalled that the Secretary, the youngest of six siblings, was being persuaded by the family, including her, to stay in the private sector and almost did, until Sen. Benigno Aquino III, who was thrust into a 2007 presidential campaign with the death of Corazon Aquino, clinched his service with the words: “Pare, para sa bayan ito.”

A profile of Almendras in the Department of Energy website describes him as a believer in “servant leadership” who bases his actions and decisions on the core value of “Integrity above all else.”

In his previous corporate posts in Ayala and Aboitiz, he would personally champion staff development programs as his advocacy of transformation through people development.

Almendras was president of the Manila Water Company with a 29-year corporate career in Cebu and Manila before he accepted the energy portfolio.

He was the Aboitiz Group’s company treasurer until he was made president of the group-owned City Savings Bank at the age of 37. He later joined the Ayala Group through Ayala Land Inc. and became CEO of Cebu Holdings Inc. and Cebu Property Ventures and Development Corporation. Later on, he assumed the role of Business Group Head for VISMIN ( Ayala Land ) and concurrently Operations Transformation Group Head of Ayala Land.

Until he got busy in government, Almendras was also a sought-after resource person on sustainable development and leadership with international speaking engagements in Asia, Europe, and the US. /Eileen G. Mangubat

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