Ex-LTFRB chief heads Palace press office




The Manila Times



MALACAÑANG on Friday confirmed the appointment of Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil as undersecretary and officer in charge of the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS). Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin confirmed Velicaria-Garafil’s appointment following news of her resignation as chairman of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). Earlier this week, Rose Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles announced her resignation as press secretary, citing health issues. Velicaria-Garafil will temporarily oversee the operations of the OPS until a new press chief is named. President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., told Malacañang reporters last Thursday he will appoint a new press secretary “early next week.” “We obviously need somebody who is very experienced in the...probably a journalist or a media practitioner. That’s what is needed, someone who knows what kind of messaging is needed so that whatever we want to put out gets out there. That’s what’s important, that we get the information, the messaging across,” Marcos said, who disclosed that his list of candidates was “down to three” names. Although the President did not divulge the choices, reports mentioned former radioman and now Transportation Undersecretary Cesar Chavez, former TV reporter and now Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) Director Gilbert Remulla, and former Estrada administration spokesman Mike Toledo. In announcing her transfer to the OPS, Velicaria-Garafil said it was “a great honor and privilege, and I thank the President for this opportunity to once again work with him in his administration to serve the Filipino people.” Velicaria-Garafil was previously an official of the House of Representatives secretariat, serving as the director 2 of the House Committee on Rules. A lawyer, she was a prosecutor for the Department of Justice (DoJ) from 2004 to 2010, and state solicitor 2 of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in 2010. As a media practitioner, Velicaria-Garafil worked for such news organizations as the Philippine Daily Globe, Central News Agency, Associated Press and Malaya. She was the media director and public relations officer of former president and speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Velicaria-Garafil is also a reserve officer in the Philippine Air Force with the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 2021, she earned a Master’s degree in National Security Administration (MNSA) from the National Defense College of the Philippines. She earned her Law degree and her bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts from the University of Santo Tomas (UST). LTFRB board member Riza Marie Paches was named as the agency’s OIC on Friday. Paches is a licensed civil engineer and environmental planner. She has a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from Notre Dame of Dadiangas University in General Santos City. Paches has more than 25 years of experience in public service specifically in areas of development planning, transportation and project management. She worked with the City Planning and Development Office, Office of the Building Official, and also headed the City Economic Management and Cooperative Development Office of General Santos City. In 2017, Paches was appointed by then-president Rodrigo Duterte as director for Infrastructure Cluster under the Office of the Cabinet Secretary. She was the first head of the newly created Public Safety Office of General Santos. In August 2021, she graduated from the National Defense College of the Philippines with a Master’s degree in National Security Administration. She is a lieutenant colonel in the Philippine Air Force Reserve Group. Paches was appointed to the LTFRB board last July 25. House Minority Leader and 4Ps Party-list Rep. Marcelino “Nonoy” Libanan had pleaded with the President to name a new press secretary, saying the Palace cannot afford to be without one even for a day. “Without a press secretary, Malacañang is bound to have presidential communication issues. Thus, our unsolicited advice to the President is for him to promptly fill the vacancy,” Libanan said. “The commotion over the President’s recent trip to Singapore, which transpired when he effectively lacked a press secretary, betrays the press secretary’s indispensable role in presidential communications,” he said. Libanan made the statement on Friday when reporters questioned him about the President’s trip to Singapore last October 2 where he watched the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix at the invitation of the city-state’s manpower minister. “Simply put, the press secretary’s job is to oversee the daily gathering and dissemination of information, including information about what the President is doing, where he is, and why he is there,” Libanan said. “If Malacañang had a press secretary at that time, the press secretary could have announced beforehand that the President was going to attend the event because he deemed it important to use the occasion to further reinforce relations with Singapore’s political and business leaders,” he said.