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Ex-PAL president Jaime Bautista chosen as DOTr secretary

Aika Rey

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Ex-PAL president Jaime Bautista chosen as DOTr secretary

FORMER PAL EXEC. Jaime Bautista was the president and chief operating officer of Philippine Airlines.


(1st UPDATE) Jaime Bautista, a trusted lieutenant of tycoon Lucio Tan, is largely credited with turning Philippine Airlines around

MANILA, Philippines – President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. picked former Philippine Airlines (PAL) president Jaime Bautista to lead the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Incoming executive secretary Vic Rodriguez confirmed Bautista’s appointment to reporters on Thursday, June 23.

Bautista was a trusted lieutenant of Lucio Tan, having spent four decades in various executive capacities in the tycoon’s group, 26 years of which were in PAL and its subsidiaries. There was a gap in his term as president and chief operating officer of the flag carrier from 2012 to 2014, as San Miguel Corporation’s Ramon Ang acquired 49% ownership of the airline.

In 2019, Bautista abruptly retired from PAL. Tan’s daughter Vivienne briefly took over and was later replaced by Gilbert Santa Maria, who himself left the airline in 2022. At present, Tan’s son-in-law Stanley Ng is PAL’s president.

Bautista is largely credited with turning PAL around. The airline secured a higher four-star rating and closed a deal with Tokyo-based All Nippon Airways Holdings with Bautista at the helm.

As DOTr secretary, he will face the country’s public transportation crisis.

Bautista will also be overseeing the construction of projects in the railway, aviation, and maritime sectors. He is expected to continue big-ticket projects such as the Metro Manila Subway, North-South Commuter Railway, and Philippine National Railways (PNR) Bicol line, among others.

It remains to be seen if the Ninoy Aquino International Airport would be rehabilitated after the government dumped Megawide Construction Corporation in 2020.

Jeepney drivers and operators also await their fate with the public utility vehicle modernization program looming over their heads.

Bautista is a certified public accountant who obtained his commerce degree from Colegio de San Juan de Letran, graduating magna cum laude in 1977.

Other transportation appointees

Aside from Bautista, former transportation undersecretary Cesar Chavez and lawyer Cheloy Garafil – both veteran journalists – and businessman Christopher Pastrana were also named as DOTr officials.

Chavez was appointed as undersecretary for railways, a post he held for nine months in 2017 before he resigned because of near-daily breakdowns at the Metro Rail Transit Line 3.

Chavez was the railways undersecretary when the DOTr secured the approval of the National Economic and Development Authority Board for the Metro Manila Subway, PNR Manila to Calamba (South Commuter line), PNR Bicol, and the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment of the Mindanao Railway project.

He was later appointed to the Bases Conversion and Development Authority in 2018 before he joined the camp of outgoing Manila Mayor Isko Moreno. He resigned as Moreno’s chief of staff in August 2021.

During the Arroyo administration, Chavez served as deputy administrator for the Light Rail Transit Authority, which manages the LRT Line 2.

Garafil, meanwhile, was designated to head the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board. She currently serves as service director at the House committee on rules. She was a prosecutor and a state solicitor.

Pastrana will be the general manager of the Philippine Ports Authority. He is the president and chief executive officer of Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corporation. –

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at