OPPORTUNITY AND privilege. This is how Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, executive director of Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) sees his work in the government sector.
“Working in the government is an opportunity because one can use his position to leave a mark in Philippine society and contribute to the betterment of Filipinos, and a privilege, because only a few are given the chance to utilize government support and resources to realize their goals and objectives,” relates Dr. Montoya.
For the past seven years as the head of PCHRD, Dr. Montoya has seized every opportunity to further his goal of promoting and strengthening health research in the country. For his efforts, he earned the Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award which was conferred to him last September 19 by President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III during the 112th anniversary of the Civil Service Commission.
The Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award is part of the Honor Awards Program of the Civil Service Commission which is an annual undertaking to recognize public officials and employees for outstanding performance and/or contributions and for consistent ethical behavior. The honor awards aims to motivate government employees to improve the quality of their performance and instill deeper involvement in public service.
Dr. Montoya was cited for his pioneering efforts in developing the country’s health research system by setting up the Regional Health Research Development Consortia; supporting the development of diagnostics kits for life- threatening diseases such as leptospirosis and dengue through genomic and molecular technology; and working for the creation of the Association of South East Asian Nations’ Network for Drugs, Diagnostics and Vaccines Innovation (ASEAN-NDI).
The establishment of Regional Health Research Development Consortia (RHRDC) in all 17 regions of the country including the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao, has empowered and enhanced the capacities of health researchers nationwide. Researchers in the provinces have more access to funding for their researches. Furthermore, regions are empowered to create their own programs and formulate activities that will enhance the research capability in their locality and address their particular health research needs.
Meanwhile, the development of diagnostic kits for dengue and leptospirosis, one of the projects being funded and supported by PCHRD, aims to provide our countrymen fast, reliable and more affordable diagnostics for the said diseases.
On the other hand, ASEAN-NDI, an international initiative now adopted by Association of South East Asian Nations, helps promote regional collaboration in research and development of traditional medicines, vaccines and diagnostic procedures for tropical diseases, as well as secure funding from World Health Organization-Tropical Disease Research.
While very much honored, Dr. Montoya was surprised to have been chosen to receive the award. “I really did not expect it because I have been with PCHRD for only less than seven years and I felt I still had to do more,” he said.
Duly recognizing the contribution of PCHRD and other institutions and individuals who worked towards achieving his goals, Dr. Montoya expressed, “I see this award not so much as a recognition of what I have done as an individual but more of a recognition of what the council has done under my stewardship.”
In leading the council, Dr. Montoya says he has always been guided by the tenets of SERVE--See the future (have a vision) and share it with everyone in the organization; Engage individuals to participate in the realization the organization’s objectives; Reinvent oneself to keep up with the developments and remain relevant to the times; Value results and relationships by duly recognizing the people’s contribution and challenging them to realize their full potential; and Embody work ideals of ethics and integrity.
“These tenets have enabled me to develop our people such that the organization can run even if the leader is not there. I have always believed that no one is indispensable. Leaders come and go but the organization remains.” Dr. Montoya added.
Dr. Montoya imparts this message to his fellow government workers: “Whatever branch or agency we belong to, whatever our position whether as leader or rank and file, we always have to bear in mind that this is a public trust. Our position is both an opportunity and a privilege that we should use wisely.”
- S&T Post, 3rd Quarter, 2012
Interviewed by: Luisa Lumioan