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DR. JAIME HERNANDEZ: An illustrious Bicol son remembered

By Jose B. Perez, Editor THE late Jaime Hernandez, founder of University of Nueva Caceres, was remembered on his 136th birthday yesterday, July 11. Born on July 11, 1892 in Libmanan, Camarines Sur, Hernandez was a Certified Public Accountant and 3rd placer in the Bar exams during the American period before he was appointed as Secretary of Finance by five presidents of the Philippine Republic, from President Manuel Quezon to Carlos Garcia. He finished high school at the then Camarines Sur Provincial High School in Naga City, now the Camarines Sur National High School. In 1916, he became the District Auditor for Albay, Cebu and Pangasinan. When he came back to Manila, he was named Assistant Manager of then Department of Railroads and Industries before he was appointed Manager of the Department of Provincial and Municipal Audits. Because of his superior managerial abilities, then US President Herbert Hoover named him Insular Auditor in 1921, becoming the first Filipino to be named as such, a title erstwhile held exclusively by Americans. When the Commonwealth was established in 1935, then President Quezon appointed him as the first Auditor General. He became finance secretary when President Sergio Osmena became president in 1945, after the war. President Manuel Roxas also named him to the same position until he decided to resign. But Roxas took him again as Director of the Board of the government-owned Philippine National Bank and at the same time chairman of the Civil Service Board of Appeals. When Ramon Magsaysay took over Malacanang, he was called back to his old post as Secretary of Finance and chairman of the Monetary Board. While on temporary retirement since 1947, he founded the Bicol Electric Company that serviced Naga and neighboring towns. He likewise maintained an accounting firm in Manila and at the same time founded the Rural Bank of Nueva Caceres that catered to the farmers in the province. In the first years of the University of the East in Manila, he was its vice president. In 1948, he established a small college in Naga – the Nueva Caceres College -- which in 1954 became the University of Nueva Caceres, the first private university in Bicol and Luzon outside Metro Manila. His daughter, the late Dolores H. Sison took over his post as president of the university. On April 1954, as head of the survey mission to Japan, he submitted his report, known as Hernandez Reports, which became the basis of the Philippine claim for reparations for the damages wrought by the war that the Japanese had inflicted on the Philippine Islands. He continued his work as cabinet secretary until the time of President Garcia who took over upon the death of Magsaysay in an airplane crash. He soon resigned after almost 50 years in government service. While retired, he took active part in various civic organizations, such as the Bicol Association, Inc. and as chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross from 1954 to 1958. He died on the same day that he was born, July 11, in 1986, at the age of 94.

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