MANILA (5th UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat as the new head of the Department of Tourism (DOT), Special Assistant to the President Bong Go said Tuesday.
Romulo-Puyat replaces former Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, who quit her post following a scandal over the P60-million placement of tourism ads on the television show of her brothers.
Romulo-Puyat is a daughter of former Senator and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo.
She is also a grandniece of Carlos P. Romulo, the first Asian president of the United Nations General Assembly and the great-granddaughter of Pio Valenzuela, the man whom Valenzuela City is named after, according to Asian Dragon magazine.
Romulo-Puyat is the sister-in-law of Shalani Soledad-Romulo, and widow of the late lawyer David Puyat.
She has an undergraduate and master's degree in economics from the University of the Philippines.
She has been serving under the agriculture department since the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
She is among the favorite women of the president.
Last year, President Duterte drew laughter from his Palace audience after he joked about being “distracted” by Romulo-Puyat's legs while he was giving a speech.
“Berna, nadis-distract ako, you close your legs. National TV 'no. Nakikinig pa ba ang papa mo?” Duterte said in a speech in Malacanang.
The president has previously expressed his fondness for the mestiza widow.
In an interview with Asian Dragon magazine in 2015 when he was still weighing whether to run for president, then-Mayor Duterte said, “Election or no election, Berna remains to be my ideal first lady...She’s one person I’m proud of showing to the world.” - with reports from Dexter Ganibe and Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News