Palace confirms Ochoa-Montejo ties

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 12 2010 09:16 PM | Updated as of Aug 13 2010 05:16 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa, Jr. is a brother-in-law of Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario Montejo, Malacañang confirmed on Thursday.

However, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda was quick to point out that Ochoa had no hand in Montejo’s appointment. He said no one lobbied for Montejo to be named as DOST secretary.

Lacierda added that Montejo is “more than qualified” for the position given his extensive background in the Philippine scientific and inventors’ community.

Ochoa was city administrator of Quezon City under the term of then Mayor and current House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr.

Ochoa also served as President Benigno Aquino III’s legal counsel since 1998 before being named executive secretary last June.

He also headed Aquino’s legal team during the presidential campaign. Their fathers and namesakes--the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and former Pulilan Mayor Paquito Ochoa Sr.--were friends.

Meanwhile, Montejo is a mechanical engineering graduate of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Engineering.

Before joining the government, he was the president and chief executive officer of North West Steel Corp., and headed Tree Top Adventure Phils., a Subic-based company that operates adventure rides at Camp John Hay in Baguio City.

He was a recipient of the top 100 UP Alumni Engineers of the Century Award given by UP College of Engineering Diliman in its centennial celebration.

Under the radar

Montejo, like Ochoa, became a national figure when the Aquino administration took power.

President Aquino had described Montejo as someone he has known “for decades.”

“He is a man of numerous titles, meaning many degrees. He is among a group of academicians who set up a corporation to translate their scientific studies into practical and applied technology for their countrymen,” Aquino said.

Lacierda echoed on Thursday the president’s statement, citing Montejo’s background as an expert inventor in the field of water filtration technology.

ABS-CBN News tried to get the side of Ochoa and Montejo for their comments on the issue.

However, a Montejo aide, Elmer Abalos, said his boss was busy and was not available for an interview, while Ochoa did not answer a call. -- with a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News