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Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Sep 8, 2021

Big task for the Little President

In political circles, the Executive Secretary is often referred to as the “Little President,” but the task is no little as could be attested by the ES Salvador Medialdea himself, who was already thinking of retirement when he was given the daunting task by President Rodrigo Duterte. 

Secretary Medialdea dedicated much of his professional life to private law practice, first at ACCRA and PECABAR law offices before establishing his own law firm. He had short stints in the government—as administrator of the Livelihood Corporation (LIVECOR) in 1998, and as presidential assistant for Political Affairs in 2000—but he preferred private practice.

However, when he was handpicked by the President to be executive secretary, he could not say no to the man who he holds in high regard and he considers as one of his mentors.

Secretary Medialdea looked up to his father, Leo D. Medialdea, who was also a lawyer and later on an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Thus, when he was appointed in government, his father’s example served as his guiding principles in public service. He recalls his father’s words that he took to heart: “So long as you can soundly sleep with what you are doing, you are in the right direction.”

As ES, Secretary Medialdea assists the President in managing the vast government bureaucracy so that it would be aligned with the President’s vision of a better Philippines for Filipinos. He crafts critical issuances to implement the President’s programs, such as the “Build, Build, Build,” a program he greatly believes in as it will enable the efficient flow of goods and movement of people, which are needed for progress.

In fact, if the Little President was President, he would also prioritize infrastructure, stressing that it makes the most impact in the lives of people. He says, “The presence or absence of good infrastructure shape a country’s destiny. Good infrastructure nurtures progress and growth.”

He shares that the work of an ES is not easy, but the President’s work energy and commitment to the people is contagious that it inspires the Secretary to always deliver his best.

President Rodrigo Duterte together with ES Salvador Medialdea, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, Sen. Bong Go and Chinese Ambassador to Philippines Huang Xilian inaugurate the Pantaleon Estrella Bridge, an infrastructure project which connect Makati and Mandaluyong within 10 minutes.

His dream is that “the next generations of Filipinos, when they look back at this period of our history, will find us faithful stewards of the offices entrusted to us during this difficult time.”

While his work can be daunting, the Secretary still finds time to do things that he loves. He enjoys riding motorbikes, playing golf, and playing musical instruments such as the piano and guitar. He also loves to travel domestically to appreciate the beauty of the Philippines.

But when asked about his fondest memory of President Duterte, Secretary Medialdea goes decades back to the time when, while waiting for his client’s case to be called at a trial court in Davao City, he randomly sat on a chair just outside the courtroom. He saw a man walking towards him and a girl shouted telling him he was sitting on the fiscal’s chair. The man said to him, “No problem, attorney. You can use my seat.” That man he met was then Fiscal Rodrigo Duterte, and that brief encounter would later change his life.

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