With his confirmation as Trade and Industry Secretary, Alfredo E. Pascual unraveled himself to the public as someone from among the ordinary DTI stakeholders -- consumers and traders -- contrary to the “snooty” impression when he first stepped into the agency’s premises.
The white-haired Pascual shared that he graduated from a public elementary school in Caloocan and used to run a fruit stall in a public market as a boy, a far cry from his impressive resume that highlights a string of high-profile associations and lofty positions.
He was proud to share that he was a Caloocan native. And now, he got an invitation from Caloocan Representative and Commission on Appointments (CA) member Oscar "Oca" G. Malapitan for a potential recognition of his achievements. The Caloocan city government gives recognition to distinguished “Batang Caloocan“. “That’s where I was born and that's where I studied up to grade six in what was called Caloocan Elementary School central campus, that’s where my roots were planted,” he said proudly.
Pascual proved to be a real pro when it comes to public markets. This should perhaps explain why he did not plunge right away into the usual price monitoring inspections and photo ops of a DTI Secretary doing regular rounds in public markets.
“During my formative years, I spent time in markets,” he shared. This is because his mother was running a fruit stall in Sangandaan market. “We go to Divisoria early morning to buy fruits such as mangoes, bananas, caimito, and bring them to the store in Sangandaan market,” revealed the former president of the University of the Philippines and Management Association of the Philippines.
By the way, the DTI chief also used to serve as a lay minister in his parish in Quezon City before the pandemic.
Upon his confirmation, the media-averse Pascual invited the press to a presscon-celebration vowing to have regular press meet ups. He declared his mission to accelerate the implementation of reforms at the agency; integrate industrial policy; and attracting the right investments, moves he was hesitant to push stronger before his confirmation.
“Now that I am confirmed, I more confident ... We are pushing for significant reforms,” he said. He is not just pushing for reforms, particularly on industrialization policies, but accelerating their implementation.
As heavy of advocate of the ease of doing business when he was still with the private sector, Pascual vowed to pursue efforts to make doing business in the country easier. He would push for exports development, jobs creation, integration of industrial policy with investments, and the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. “Now, we have to make these happen,” he said.
Pascual was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support with roughly 60 endorsements, from big business chambers both domestic and international, including their local chapters, associations in various industries and sectors, cooperatives and unions, academe and think tanks, and organizations related to science and technology groups, asking the Commission on Appointments to approve the trade chief’s nomination.
“It is heartwarming to note that such endorsements were made,” he said grateful of the various recommendations he did not solicit, citing his staff at DTI for guiding and supporting him, and the media.
He expressed gratitude to the CA and its plenary presided by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri,and CA's Committee on Trade and Industry Chairperson Representative Ferjenel Biron for confirming his appointment as DTI Secretary.
He was grateful to President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. for giving him the opportunity to serve the government and the country as he expressed excitement to work alongside the president towards providing a better future to Filipinos.
“Together, we march ahead and work toward our country’s robust economic expansion. We have begun and will now reinforce our efforts to build dynamic and strong industries through science, technology, and innovation. This way, our industries will be better positioned to transform, and to compete in domestic and export markets. In turn, they can create more quality jobs for our people,” he said.
He said that the country’s game-changing reforms are ushering an investment-led economy that generates greater income opportunities for more Filipinos. He vowed to continue enhancing the Philippines’ investment climate.
“We advance with more attractive incentives for investors, with reinforced ease of doing business. We will leverage our existing industrial strengths and competencies and adopt Industry 4.0 technologies to build dynamic industry ecosystems,” he added.
Citing the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as the backbone of the country’s economy, he said the DTI shall endeavor to expand support and enable them to be more productive, modern, and successful, especially in the new digital economy.
To consumers, he said, the DTI will work to temper price increases on basic goods and protect consumer rights.