Idealist in government

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

THE title almost gives off a hint of some compromise; an awkward and ironic blend even. Ideals usually turn the best of dreamers into heroes—dead ones. At least most of those who fervently follow the blueprint to their own respective heavens, all high-five deaths, knowing that no sickle is too blunt to ward off their courageous souls back to “normalcy.”

BUT by admission, this Cebuana—all smiles sipping her coffee during the interview—said she enjoys working for the government. That’s a fact, generally, for Undersecretary for Policy and Planning at the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), Atty. Lesley Cordero.

“I’ve always wanted to feel how it’s like to work in government,” she shared. The daughter of a lawyer and housewife, she said their family has really no political lineage. She maintained that her stint in public service stemmed out of a passion for adventure and service. “I felt that the job was exciting.”


“The goal is to unify and consolidate all policies under office for better communication and service,” she said of her office’s duty.”

But the rap about working in government is not exactly pleasant—if you’re not a rich thief, you’re either a poor worker. Here’s more: Politicians are perceived as power hungry; judges slightly biased—and even the police have its share of blows—when stories, passed on by word of mouth, reveal a reality about how syndicates exist, operating like mafias in sitios.

Cordero’s job description, though, isn’t as up front compared to the faces plastered on street walls during campaign time. This is not to say those people are automatically wicked. “I feel like I’m more effective when I’m working in the background.”

The noticeably down-to-earth undersecretary would probably laugh off the idea becoming this administration’s poster girl. Although this nation’s parents might not find that idea too farfetched when it comes to whom they want their children to look up to.

Cordero graduated from Sacred Heart School for Girls in Cebu City as salutatorian.

Then right after she graduated magna cum laude, Bachelor of Philosophy, from the University of San Carlos (USC), she had her graduate studies at Ateneo de Manila University School of Law, earning a Juris Doctor of Laws degree.

Then throw in these random distinctions in the mix: Asia 21 Philippines Top Filipino Young Leaders, 2011; 2008 Most Outstanding USC Alumni on Youth Leadership University (She is the youngest recipient of this award in the history of the University since 1953); Rotary Youth Leadership Awardee, 2002; Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines (Region VII), 2001; The Outstanding Cebuano Youth Leader, 2000.

After her studies, she worked under senators with the work load ranging from drafting legislative bills and senate resolutions, to strategic planning for campaigns. She also had experience as a communications director abroad.

At present, her work with the PCOO involves coming up with ways on how to disseminate information from the government, to the public. Black, white—the job is easily identified with coming up with propaganda for the administration, which Cordero is very much aware of.

“The best defense is to answer truthfully as possible,” the last two words not a clause for dishonesty, but rather a waiver when there are questions that she’s not in the position to answer. “When you’re in government, defend the work position of the government. Deliver what the job calls for without mixing politics. You’d be surprised that quality matters for some bosses.

“It’s pretty simple. You stay if you like it; you move out if you don’t.”

She says one example of how her office is dedicated to practicing objectiveness with its output. Like the instance when channel PTV-4—the flagship government television network owned by the Philippine Government through People’s Television Network Inc., invited an openly harsh critic of the administration for a show.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 11, 2013.


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