|Profile of Cabinet Secretaries|
Hon. Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr.
Born on November 11, 1960, lawyer Paquito "Jojo" N. Ochoa, Jr. took Economics at the University of Santo Tomas and law at the Ateneo School of Law. He joined the Bar in 1986, and his pro-bono work in his province led to his election as Director and then Vice President of the Bulacan Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. He also engaged in private practice and served as partner of the De Mesa and Ochoa Law Offices and later partner (on leave) in the Marcos Ochoa Serapio Tan Law Firm.
The closeness of the Aquino and Ochoa families -- the late Sen. Ninoy Aquino was a close friend of the the senior Ochoa, the former mayor of Pulilan, Bulacan -- would lead to Atty. Ochoa being tapped by Noynoy Aquino to handle the latter’s legal requirements when he first ran for Congress in 1998; Atty. Ochoa has handled his legal affairs ever since.
In 2001, when then Rep. Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte, Jr. ran for mayor, Atty. Ochoa headed his legal team. Mayor Belmonte then made Atty. Ochoa his right-hand man and later formally appointed him City Administrator in 2003.
As City Administrator, he helped oversee the management of a city grappling with budget shortfalls and the increasing demands of a fast-growing city. Atty. Ochoa headed the Finance Committee, among others, and implemented systems that would drastically cut down unnecessary spending by the city government.
Prudent spending practices that included a thorough review of the infrastructure requirements of the city and the rationalization of its utilities expenditures -- together with improved revenue collection -- allowed Q.C. to successfully balance its budget and pay all the obligations of past administrations, including the P33 million in arrears in premium payments to the GSIS dating back to 1997. It also enabled Q.C. to become one of the local government units least dependent on internal revenue allotments (IRA), with the IRA accounting for only 24% of its total income -- 11% less than it was in 2001.
The city’s fiscal discipline allowed Quezon City to -- upon the recommendation of Atty. Ochoa -- automatically release the share of Q.C. barangays in the real property tax collections of the city. To ensure that Barangay Chairmen would use their fiscal autonomy wisely, Atty. Ochoa tapped the University of the Philippines’ National College of Public Administration and Governance to train the Barangay officials in the proper disbursement of their funds.
His work as City Administrator has earned praise from governance specialists in the academe like Ateneo School of Government Dean Tony La Viña, who called Atty. Ochoa "an effective, efficient and innovative public servant," whose "programs intended to improve education, health and business permitting processes" have helped improve the delivery of basic services in Quezon City. Today Quezon City’s health workers are trained to properly implement the Magna Carta of Health Workers; its teachers receive additional training that have helped increase the scores of students in the Q.C. public school system; and Q.C. residents can expect less red tape at city hall.