Atty. John Titus Vistal, Provincial Planning and Development Coordinator (PPDC), was recently asked by the Palace to serve as secretary general (a position equivalent to undersecretary) of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) under the Office of the President.
It may be recalled that Cabinet Sec. Leoncio Evasco, Jr. was appointed chair of the HUDCC immediately after Vice President Leni Robredo resigned last month. Being a trusted man of President Rodrigo Duterte, Evasco is concurrently handling 18 agencies.
To facilitate Evasco’s heavy load at the HUDCC, Usec. Gloria Jumamil-Mercado favorably recommended Vistal to serve as HUDCC sec-gen. Mercado and Vistal had the opportunity of working together during her stint as the dean of the Graduate School of the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP).
Evasco then wrote a letter to Duterte about the proposal to “borrow” Vistal from the Bohol Provincial Government to assist him in the HUDCC.
Late last December, Mercado handcarried a letter from Evasco and discussed with Gov. Edgar Chatto Malacañang’s proposal to “borrow” Vistal, the official term of which is secondment, a mode of government personnel movement allowed by the Civil Service Commission. Vistal retains his position as PPDC at the Capitol while working as HUDCC sec-gen.
The governor agreed in principle, but subject to the concurrence of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) and with due respect for the provincial legislature. He cited 43-year old Vistal as “a very outstanding government worker and a very skilled individual”, being a lawyer, certified public accountant, and a fifth-placer in the 2016 National Licensure Examinations for Environmental Planners (EnPs).
As the HUDCC secretary general, Vistal acts as the point person to coordinate with all agencies related to housing and urban planning and development while liaising with many other related agencies.
In the absence of PPDC Vistal, the PPDO will be manned by Peter Ross Retutal, also a certified public accountant who took his masteral degree in Australia and trained in Japan on disaster risk management and climate change adaptation.
Chatto conferred with Vistal, Retutal and the PPDO division heads who all supported the decision of the governor to agree to the secondment.
Fellow provincial department heads and government co-workers considered Vistal’s secondment to a Malacañang body as an “offered privilege” that could at the same time prove the competence and integrity of the current Bohol administration.
Chatto and Evasco personally talked of the secondment on the occasion of the groundbreaking of the Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital (GCGMH) upgrading project on January 4, this year.
After the monthly capitol convocation program on Monday, January 23, the governor conferred with and explained to Vice Gov. Dionisio Balite and the SP members his position supporting the Malacañang request and allowing Vistal’s secondment.
In a letter, Chatto formally indorsed the same to the SP for an authority to sign a secondment agreement
The provincial board on its January 27th session passed a resolution granting authority to the governor to sign a memorandum of agreement on Vistal’s secondment with the Office of the President thru Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdia.
According to the prepared agreement, Vistal’s secondment will take effect anytime in February 2017 and end in January 2018. The agreement may be renewed.
“This is our way, another way, of supporting and helping the national government,” Chatto said.
He said Bohol’s development framework is consistent with and supportive of the national government agenda.
Vistal can help facilitate the strengthening of the link between the national government and local development in collaboration with the Boholano cabinet and top level officials in the Duterte administration, the governor said.
While “at the top,” Vistal will continue to provide guidance to the PPDO thru the officer-in-charge who, Chatto further described, is “an equally qualified planner and a leader in his own right.” (with contributions from Ven Arigo).