Prof. Fortunato T. de la Peña, USec “Boy” to those who know him as former undersecretary for S&T Services, is back as DOST’s top man.
After a rigorous process of screening for the next head of the Department of Science and Technology, President Rodrigo R. Duterte appointed former DOST Undersecretary Fortunato T. de la Peña to the top post. De la Peña is no stranger to the science agency as he spent a great number of years at the DOST in different capacities and retired from the service as Undersecretary for S&T Services just last year.
The unassuming and soft-spoken public servant was appointed Undersecretary in May 2001 and was instrumental in implementing different programs during his stint that saw the flourishing of high-impact projects that benefited various stakeholders involved in enterprise development, education and scholarship, technology transfer and innovation, and health research and many more. De la Peña started his career in government service as the head of the Planning Services Division of the National Science and Technology Authority, the forerunner of DOST, in the early 1980s. In 1989, de la Peña was appointed director of DOST’s Technology Application and Promotion Institute and stayed there for three years.
In between his stint at the DOST, de la Peña assumed different positions: at the University of the Philippines, first as Vice President for Planning and Development, then as interim Executive Director for two years; served at the APEC Center for Technology Exchange and Training for Small and Medium Enterprises and was a former president of the UP Alumni Engineers, Philippine Institute of Chemical Engineers, and trustee of the UP Engineering Research and Development Foundation among others.
One of the strengths of de la Peña is his managerial skills on top of having two degrees: one in Chemical Engineering and another in Industrial Engineering from the University of the Philippines. He obtained special training certificates of doctoral studies in business administration also from the State University and graduate studies in Operations Research from the Polytechnic Institute of New York. He also earned a diploma in Industrial Quality Control from the Boucentrum International Education in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
In one of his previous pronouncements, de la Peña underscored the importance of finding solutions by properly identifying the problem.
“Solving a problem requires concrete decisions and relevant solutions. Examining the nature of the problem helps in formulating the steps to be undertaken in arriving at appropriate solutions. Taking all the angles of a certain issue makes me more confident in providing solutions because the things involved are well taken and evaluated,” said de la Peña.
As an academician, de la Peña had presented papers in local and international conferences in the areas of e-governance, technology management, small and medium enterprises and regional cooperation specifically for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. De la Peña has had his share of awards where he earned recognitions like the Philippine Productivity Movement Service Award, UP Gawad Chancellor and the Professional Regulatory Commission Outstanding Professional Award.
A strong believer in the power of science and technology, expectations are high but de la Peña stands tall with his wealth of experience that will surely propel him to achieve even more accomplishment as he returns to public service. Equipped with more than talent, expertise, professionalism and vision, the new science chief is poised to bring more positive changes in a world of constant change by harnessing the power of science, technology and innovation. (By Rodolfo P. de Guzman S&T Media Service, DOST-STII)