By: Estrella Z. Gallardo
PROF. FORTUNATO T. DELA PENA, JR., former president of the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) and former Undersecretary for S&T Services of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) was named as one of the 34 cabinet men of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s administration. President-elect Duterte, in his press conference in Davao City, last May 31, 2016, named Prof. de la Pena as his new Secretary for DOST.
Prof. De la Peña, or simply USec. Boy for the members of the science community is a staunch advocate of basic research and is widely respected as a diligent, efficient, and very effective science administrator here and abroad. As proof of this, while he was then serving as DOST USec for S&T Services, he simultaneously worked as NRCP President and as Chair of NRCP Division of Engineering and Industrial Research. He is noted for being the longest serving President of the NRCP, from 2002 to 2007 or for 5 consecutive terms.
In 2013, Prof. De la Peña was named as one of the NRCP Achievement Awardees for his outstanding contributions in the field of engineering and Industrial Research and excellence in science administration. Aside from spearheading the e-governance programs, Prof. De la Peña is also one of the forerunners of the National Science and Technology Plan 2002-2020, which sets the national policy framework and direction of science and technology in the country. These pioneering efforts along with his achievements as an engineer, as academician, and as S&T manager were upheld by various notable recognitions, like the Dangal ng Bayan and Outstanding CESO awards by the Career Executive Service Board in 2005.
Prof. De la Peña earned his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering, masters in Industrial Engineering, and special training certificates in business administration, all from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman. He pursued a graduate studies in Operations Research in Polytechnic Institute of New York and obtained a diploma in Industrial Quality Control from Bouwcentrum International Education in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Prior to his appointment as undersecretary, he was a noted professor of industrial engineering at UP Diliman College of Engineering, where he also chaired the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research.
Other key positions he held include 15th Session Chairman for the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD), a high-level agency tasked to promote S&T for development and address issues of digital divide and internet governance; Director of Technology Application and Promotion Institute of DOST; Head of Planning Service Division of the then National Science and Technology Authority (precedent of DOST); Vice President for Planning and Development of UP Diliman; and interim Executive Director for the APEC Center for Technology Exchange and Training for Small and Medium Enterprises.
Prof. De la Peña attained CESO I rank upon his retirement as DOST USec in 2014; by far, only few government officials have attained this rank.