DEFENDER OF JUSTICE
Department of Justice Undersecretary
Em Aglipay-Villar talks about the agency’s
fight to end human trafficking and to uplift
BY MARIDOL RANOA-BISMARK
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JAR CONCENGCO
Two rooms filled with piles of papers greeted Justice Undersecretary
Emmeline “Em” Aglipay-Villar when she finally accepted Justice
Secretary Menardo Guevarra’s offer to join his team in July 2019.
But instead of wringing her hands in despair, Villar thought of
a solution. She asked her office staff to bring in work that she can
manage to fit on her table. “I took it one table-size at a time,” she recalls.
It worked. When assessment period came, Villar’s voluminous work
merited a good rating. Others would have rested on their laurels. Not this
magna cum laude graduate (AB Economics) from De La Salle University
and law degree holder from the University of the Philippines.
She brushed off her staff’s opinions that she had done more than enough,
and said they just have to keep on going. Her young, energetic staff support
their boss all the way. Villar lets them go home after office hours, but they
stay until the evening to help her finish the paperwork. They keep it light by
laughing and telling stories in between. But they get the job done.
“I can honestly say I work very hard. I compete with myself,” Villar quips.
This work ethic makes her bring home crates of paperwork. Villar pores over the papers in the car on her way home, and studies t hem further on weekends.
NO BREAK FROM PUBLIC SERVICE
Besides an upbringing that instilled a love for excellence, Villar credits her parents-in-law and her husband, Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, for reminding her how important it is to work hard.
“They are some of the most hardworking people I know. They work daily, even on Sundays and holidays. I learned from them that there is no break from public service. In a way, it has helped me go about my work because they understand the demands. My husband understands when I have to be away sometimes during important occasions,” she says.
Her boss, Secretary Gueverra, being worried for her health, tells her to take it easy too, because she
pushes herself too hard. But Villar thinks work for others can’t wait.
As USec, she’s fighting a powerful invisible enemy—human.....