MALACAÑANG'S Executive Secretary is often referred to as the "little President" because of the immense powers that come with the position.
As the next executive secretary, Victor "Vic" Rodriguez seems to fit the position well, having earned the full confidence and trust of President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, and armed with a work ethic that includes getting things done promptly and efficiently.
The 48-year-old lawyer, seen by many as fiercely loyal to Marcos, will be the man who sees to it that the president-elect's pronouncements are communicated to the proper departments and agencies and his directives are implemented.
It will be Rodriguez who will set the Palace's bureaucratic process in motion.
The Manila Times asked Rodriguez for a better picture of his new role.
"As the incoming Executive Secretary, the objective has been and always will be the faithful execution and performance of the mandate of the Office of the Executive Secretary. The plans would always be dependent on the policy of the president," he said.
At this point, Rodriguez said the focus is "to foster unity, harmony and coordination in all the agencies of the government for the Filipinos to benefit from after having come from the most recent divisive democratic activity of the country — the national elections." "We have been promoting unity since the proclamation by choosing competent and willing leaders to lead the different agencies in the Executive Department regardless of political color and affiliation. It is our goal to continuously adapt measures that will ensure coordination amongst government agencies with interrelated or correlated functions," he said.
Because the country is still grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, Rodriguez sees the need to give reviving the economy "high priority and focus." The president-elect's policy directive of implementing ease of doing business and making suitable cost-effective measures in the government projects and programs, including streamlining the bureaucracy," should also be addressed with urgency, Rodriguez said.
The Executive Secretary holds the highest rank in the Office of the President. Among other things, the Executive Secretary assists the President in the management of bureaucratic affairs; implements presidential directives, orders and decisions; decides, for and on behalf of the President, matters not requiring personal presidential attention; and signs papers "by authority of the President."
Rodriguez was part of Marcos' transition committee, and his first assignment is to help the president-elect build the latter's Cabinet.
His long association with Marcos is one of the assets that will be crucial to his standing in the Palace hierarchy. "I have been in the private law practice from admission to the bar and have been serving the president even prior to his candidacy as vice president in 2016," he said.
A graduate of the University of Santo Tomas, Rodriguez is a young but seasoned lawyer with an extensive law practice.
He is managing partner of Rodriguez and Partners, a law firm which he established in 2003.
Also an alumnus of the National University of Singapore, Rodriguez entered public service in 1994 when he was elected barangay (village) captain and earned the distinction of being the youngest to hold the position at age 19.
He joined the Quezon City government in 2002 after his term as barangay chief and was appointed special assistant to the chief of the Business Permits and Licensing Office by then Mayor Feliciano Belmonte, and eventually as office in charge of the Community Relations Office.
Rodriguez is the current president of the Quezon City Trial Lawyers League, former Deputy General Counsel of Integrated Bar of the Philippines and most recently served as treasurer of the University of Santo Tomas Law Alumni Foundation Inc.
He co-published the tabloid Saksi Ngayon with incoming Special Assistant to the President Anton Lagdameo before the start of the campaign period.
Rodriguez served as Marcos' chief of staff and spokesman and was highly regarded for the candidate's successful campaign.
Known for being tireless, disciplined, and possessing a strong work ethic, he is seen as one who can ensure that the plans, policies and direction of the incoming administration are implemented.
"Who can say no to President-elect Bongbong Marcos? It is an honor working with him, whom I have known for a very long time, and I believe will serve the country efficiently and with unquestioned devotion. It is very flattering to work alongside the best person I've known," Rodriguez said on May 22, following his nomination as executive secretary.