Former CJ Bersamin buckles down as new ES

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has sworn in former Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin as his new Executive Secretary vice Victor Rodriguez, who resigned from the post to become the Presidential Chief of Staff.

photo shows Mr. Marcos standing shoulder-to-shoulder with his new Executive Secretary, former Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin

Press Secretary Rose Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles confirmed the appointment of Bersamin, who also attended Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting in Malacanang after taking his oath before the President.

“Former Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin has taken his oath of office as Executive Secretary before President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. He began his duties immediately by attending the 9th Cabinet meeting right after swearing in,” Cruz-Angeles said in a statement.

“The President said that he is well qualified to be the executive secretary. Having put in so many years in the judiciary, he has the necessary legal background and the ability to deal with paperwork. Plus of course, he is trusted and well-qualified for this,” the Press Secretary said.

The move confirms reports that started two weeks ago, as various sectors had already congratulated Bersamin, who was also chairman of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) under the Duterte administration before Mr. Marcos tapped him to replace Rodriguez.

“As Executive Secretary, Bersamin will directly assist the President in the management of affairs of the government, as well as direct the operations of the executive office,” the state insurer said in a statement.

Born and raised in Abra, Bersamin served as the top magistrate starting November 2018 and retired from the judiciary in October 2019. Among the early well-wishers for his appointment as “ES” was constitutionalist Fr. Ranhilio “Rannie” Aquino, who posted it on his Facebook page on Sept. 16.

The former Chief Justice replaced Rodriguez, the lawyer and spokesperson for Mr. Marcos since his bid for the vice presidency in 2016 and when he ran successfully for President in the May 9 polls.

Rodriguez stepped down as Executive Secretary after getting dragged into the sugar importation controversy when he admitted to asking officials of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to draft the controversial Sugar Order (SO) No. 4.

SO4 was later revoked by Mr. Marcos, saying it was drafted without his permission as concurrent Agriculture Secretary and chairman of the Sugar Board.

Bersamin, meanwhile, brings almost 20 years of expertise and experience in the judiciary, including over 10 years in the High Court, to the Marcos administration.

“As I step down as GSIS Chairman after two years and seven months, I feel extremely grateful to the men and women of GSIS, including my colleagues at the Board of Trustees, for the remarkable work that they have been putting in to promote the interest of GSIS members, pensioners, and their families,” he said in a statement.

“In my relatively brief stay in GSIS, I have witnessed firsthand the professionalism and competence of its executives and employees, which undoubtedly propelled the state pension fund, to become one of the leading public service institutions in the country,” he said.

“I will be leaving GSIS in competent hands under the leadership of now Acting Chairman and President and General Manager Wick Veloso who will undoubtedly bring it to greater heights,” Bersamin added.

Bersamin was appointed by then-President Rodrigo Duterte as chairman of the GSIS Board of Trustees on February 6, 2020.

Under his watch as Chairman, the pension fund was cited by the 2020 Stevie International Business Awards for having one of the “Most Valuable Government Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic” in the world.

It was also during Bersamin’s term when GSIS was named one of the Top 5 Most Trusted Government Agencies in the 2021 Philippine Trust Index for remaining engaged with its members and pensioners even during the pandemic.

“I extend my warmest congratulations to Chairman Lucas P. Bersamin on your appointment as Executive Secretary. I wish you all the best and may the wind of success blow your way,” Veloso said.

“It was such a great honor and privilege to learn from you during the brief time we worked together. Your immense knowledge, legal expertise and wealth of experience will be a tremendous asset to PBBM, as he steers our nation towards growth and prosperity,” he added.

Bersamin finished his law degree at the University of the East in 1973 and placed 9th at the Bar examinations in the same year. In 1986, he was appointed presiding judge of the Quezon City Trial Court Branch 96.

He served as associate justice at the Court of Appeals in 2003 and in 2009 was elevated to the Supreme Court by then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

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