The President’s Team: Meet the new VPs of UP President Jimenez

Written by Celeste Ann Castillo Llaneta

Every leader needs a capable team, and Atty. Angelo A. Jimenez, the newly sworn-in 22nd President of the University of the Philippines (UP), is no exception.

On February 24, the UP Board of Regents (BOR), the highest governing body in the UP System, confirmed the appointments of the members of Jimenez’ executive team. Jimenez tapped UP alumni leaders in the private sector and experienced members of past UP System administrations alike in assembling his executive team.

The new Vice Presidents of the UP System as of February 10 are:

  • Executive Vice President Jose Fernando Tagaban Alcantara;
  • Vice President for Academic Affairs Maria Cynthia Rose Banzon Bautista;
  • Vice President for Planning and Finance Iryn So Yap-Balmores;
  • Vice President for Administration Nestor Gayonoche Yunque;
  • Vice President for Development Ferdinand Jesus Aquino Pecson;
  • Vice President for Public Affairs Jose Wendell Pendon Capili;
  • Vice President for Legal Affairs Abraham Rey Montecillo Acosta;
  • Secretary of the University and of the BOR Roberto Marcos Jota Lara;
  • Special Assistant to the President-Chief of Staff Ricky Dilao Dela Torre.

Bautista, Yunque, Capili and Lara were part of the administration of former UP President Danilo Concepcion, whom Jimenez succeeded.

Also appointed as Advisers to the President are: Dr. Leo De Paz Cubillan, Adviser for Academic and Research Development; Dr. Emmanuel Cusi Lallana, Adviser for Digital Transformation; Dr. Elena E. Pernia, Adviser for Public Affairs; and Ms. Ma. Shari Niña Gumiran Oliquino, Adviser for Student Affairs.

The new vice presidents and advisers shall serve at the pleasure of the UP President. In addition, a memorandum on the reorganization of the UP System offices and officials, issued by the Office of the President on February 10, also stated that all assistant vice presidents, directors and other officials who are coterminous with the previous administration, will continue in a holdover capacity until February 28, or unless sooner replaced or reappointed.

Who are the new UP VPs?

Executive Vice President Jose Fernando T. Alcantara is an expert in business management and operations with 32 years of experience as chief executive and senior management in companies in various industries. He was Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands from 2018 to 2021, and before that, served as President and CEO of companies in the shipping and ship-building industries, in insurance and finance, in operations and management, in mining and energy, and in diversified food. He was also business development adviser and consultant on various economic and infrastructure projects of the Office of the Governor of Batangas, and engaged with private corporations in different industries in terms of corporate and business restructuring, business rehabilitation, and industrial zone development.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from UP Diliman; his Masters degree in International Economics from the University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA; and his doctoral residency in International Economics from the London School of Economics.

As Executive Vice President, Alcantara is tasked with assisting the UP President in carrying out the educational plans and policies of the University and in supervising the different academic activities of the University.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Maria Cynthia Rose B. Bautista is a Professor of Sociology at UP Diliman. Prior to her appointment as Vice President for Academic Affairs in 2017, she was executive director of the UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies, and dean of the UP College of Social Sciences and Philosophy before her secondment to the Commission on Higher Education as Commissioner from March 2012 to September 2016.

Beyond UP and CHED, she served on the Advisory Board, Management Board, Board of Trustees, Executive Board or Executive Committees of various institutions, including the National University of Singapore’s Asian Research Institute; the Human Development Network, the Asian Scholarship Foundation, the ASEAN Quality Assurance Network, the UNESCO Regional Committee for the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications in Asia and the Pacific. She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies, Pulse Asia, and the CARD MRI Development Institute.

Bautista heads the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs (OVPAA), which is directly responsible for providing substantive inputs to System-wide planning, formulation of policies and standards, monitoring and review, and coordination of the University’s curricular, instructional, research, library and extension program. The OVPAA is the UP System’s implementation unit dedicated to achieving academic excellence, collegiality, ethical and democratic governance, international recognition, and a culture of creativity, research, and innovation towards the fulfillment of UP’s mission as the national university.

Vice President for Administration Nestor G. Yunque is a Professor at the UP Visayas College of Arts and Sciences – Division of Biological Sciences. Before becoming Vice President for Administration in 2017, Yunque served as Vice Chancellor for Administration of the UP Visayas in Iloilo. He is an Assistant Professor at the UPV College of Arts and Sciences-Division of Biological Sciences. He is an active advocate and resource person on disaster risk reduction and climate change resiliency campaigns. He was Project Leader of the Project ReBUILD (Jalaur River Basin Component), a capacity- and resiliency-building project for 21 municipalities comprising the river basin of Jalaur, funded by the Government of New Zealand and managed by the UNDP and the Philippine Climate Change Commission.

Yunque heads the Office of the Vice President for Administration, which is directly responsible for the UP System’s administrative operations, with direct supervision and control of the Office of Administrative Personnel Services, the Physical Plant Office, the Security Division, the Property Division, the Cash Division, the Internal Audit Division, and the Accounting Division.

Vice President for Development Ferdinand A. Pecson has had 11 years of formal education, earning his doctorate degree in energy, his MBA and his Masters degree in Engineering Management, and his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has had six years of experience in shepherding the Public-Private Partnership Program in the Philippines, and over 25 years of experience leading and assisting organizations in government and in industry, including the PPP Center, FLSmidth A/S, Holcim Philippines, Deere & Co., Pricewaterhouse Coopers, United Technologies Corporation, Bacnotan Consolidated Industries, PHINMA, and the University of the Philippines.

Over the past 40 years, he has built a rich and varied social network of professionals in key sectors: government, energy, health, finance, manufacturing, consulting, and education.

The Office of the Vice President for Development, which Pecson heads, is directly responsible for the planning and funding of development projects and expansion of the University, and for promoting closer relations with the government, the alumni, the foundations, the private sector, and the general public.

Vice President for Planning and Finance Iryn S. Yap-Balmores is a certified public accountant (CPA) with over 25 years of progressive professional experience in audit, finance and taxation, including strategic finance, financial reporting, general accounting and compliance, mergers and acquisition. She graduated from UP with a degree in BS Business Administration and Accountancy, cum laude, in 1995, and placed 20th in CPA Board Exams that same year.

She is currently CFO of the BasicLogistics Corporation (BLC) / A 1Move Logistics, Inc. (A1), and served as head of finance of the First Philippine Silkroad International Corporation from 2016 to 2021. Prior to these, she was Senior Tax Director and Special Assistant to the Chairman and Managing Partner of Sycip Gorres Velayo & Co., and served for a year as Director II of the Direct Taxes Branch of the Philippine Senate. As tax director/supervisor from 1995 to 2006, she handled tax and due diligence audit engagements for clients in industries such as manufacturing, power, mining, telecommunications, hospitality, and real estate.

The Office of the Vice President for Planning and Finance, headed by Yap-Balmores, is responsible for assisting the UP System and the UP constituent units in preparing various planning documents and longer-strategic plans; preparing the budget proposal to be submitted to the national government and working for the release of funds to the University; and supervising the cash operations and management accounting function of the UP System.

Vice President for Public Affairs Jose Wendell P. Capili obtained degrees from UST, UP Diliman, University of Tokyo, University of Cambridge, and The Australian National University, where he earned his PhD. He is a Professor at the UP Diliman Department of English and Comparative Literature. He has published seven books and over 300 articles in the Philippines and abroad, and has received Carlos Palanca, Cultural Center of the Philippines, and National Book Awards for Literature and scholarships, grants, and fellowships in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, UK and the US.

He is one of the seven Achievement Awardees for 2020 of the DOST National Research Council of the Philippines, and a recipient of the UP Diliman Gawad Chancellor, UP Carlos P. Romulo Professorial Chair, UP International Publication Award, UP Centennial Professorial Chair, UP Centennial Faculty Grant, and the One UP Professorial Chair Teaching and Research. He is a Life Member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, and sits on the international advisory boards of several academic journals published abroad.

Capili heads the Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs, which is tasked with developing and maintaining relations with government agencies that affect the functions and operations of the University, e.g. CHED, CSC, DBM and the executive branch, COA, and Congress; developing and maintaining alumni relations; developing and maintaining the University’s media relations and relations with the private sector; and conducting regular review and rationalization of policies on public service programs and extension work.

Vice President for Legal Affairs Abraham Rey M. Acosta earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering in 1999, and his Bachelor of Laws degree in 2006, both from UP. He was admitted to the Bar in 2007. He is concurrently a senior lecturer at the UP College of Law, and a faculty member at the University of San Jose – Recoletos School of Law. He is a partner of A Acosta & Associates Law Offices, and a Director of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Cebu City Chapter, where he co-chairs the IBP Cebu City Legal Aid Committee.

Prior to his appointment as Vice President for Legal Affairs, he served as municipal administrator of Compostela, Cebu, and was an associate of Quisumbing Torres and Sycip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan. He was also Liaison Officer for Legislative Affairs of the Philippine Coast Guard; Information Technology Officer at the UP College of Law; and Automation Engineering Contractor of the Philippine Industrial Automation.

Acosta heads the Office of the Vice President for Legal Affairs, which serves as UP’s strategic partner to its clients, by providing timely, professional, and reliable legal advice and guidance to the University officials, in support of its educational goals and objectives.

Secretary of the University and the Board of Regents Roberto M.J. Lara graduated from UP with a degree of Bachelor of Arts in Social Science and Bachelor of Laws. He was admitted to the Bar in 1988. He obtained his Masters of Law (Commercial Law) degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science (1999). He has worked in various government agencies, including as Senior Technical Assistant to then Senator Rene A.V. Saguisag, and as Chief of Staff of former BIR Commissioner Liwayway Vinzons-Chato. After leaving government service in 1998, he engaged in private law practice until his appointment as University Secretary in February 2017.

He and the Office of the Secretary of the University and the BOR serve as the primary interface and communication link between the top policy makers and executive officers of the University on one hand and the diverse stakeholders and resource providers of the University and the general public on the other. The OSU facilitates governance of the University through its work as the secretariat and administrative arm of the BOR, the President’s Advisory Council (PAC), and the President’s Management Committee (PMC).