19th Secretary of National Defense

July 20, 1991 to September 15, 1997

Renato Salud De Villa's rise in the hierarchy of the country's defense establishments put into sharp focus his 38-year career in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), marked by outstanding performance from the time he entered the military service as cadet in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in 1953 to his retirement from the military service in January 1991.

Hardworking, dedicated and imbued with a high degree of professionalism and commitment to public service, De Villa was the ideal choice for the top defense post vacated by Fidel V. Ramos on July 20, 1991.

Immediately upon his graduation from the PMA in 1957, he was assigned as a platoon leader in the 3rd battalion Combat team, Philippine Army, in Huk-infested Quezon province. He rose from the ranks and held responsible positions in the military service.

He became the Battalion Commander of the 61st Battalion, which saw action in Zamboanga del Norte at the high of the secessionist movement in Mindanao. His Battalion was awarded the "Presidential Streamer as the PC battalion of the year" Award for 1976.

As Provincial Commander/Police Superintendent of the Negros Occidental PC/INP Command, his command was the recipient of the "Provincial Command of the Year" Award for 1977.

As Regional commander, PC/INP Regional Command 5 (Bicol Region), his command received the "Regional Command of the Year" award for 1985.

His other military assignments included a stint in South Vietnam in 1968 as the commander of the Civic Action Detachment, PHILCAG V; Commandant of Cadets, Philippine Military Academy, 1978; Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, J3, General headquarters, AFP, 1981; Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, Training and Organization, C3, Philippine Constabulary, 1982; and Superintendent, PC Training Command in Camp CastaƱada, Silang, Cavite, 1983.

He became the Chief of Constabulary and Director-General of the defunct Philippine Constabulary/Integrated National Police, and was concurrently Armed Forces Vice Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines and served for three years. He retired from the military service in January 1988, he was appointed Secretary of National Defense and served during the remainder of the remainder of the term of President Corazon Aquino and when Fidel V. Ramos assumed the presidency.

De Villa holds a Masters Degree in Business Management from the Asia Institute of Management (AIM).

A veteran of the Vietnam War and various military campaigns in the Philippine, his career in the military service earned him numerous medals, awards and commendations for distinguished conduct and exemplary leadership, among which are the following:

One (1) Distinguished Conduct Star (DCS); five (5) Distinguished Silver Star (DSS); two (2) Philippine Legion of Honor (Degree of Commander); one (1) Outstanding Achievement medal; five (5) Military Merit Medals; one (1) Military Commendation Medal; one (1) Army Commendation Medal;

One (1) Honor Medal, First Class (Army of Vietnam); one (1) U.S. Legion of Merit (Degree of Commander); Darjah Panglima Setia Mahkota (the Most Esteemed Order of the crown of Malaysia); Indonesian Legion of Honor (Degree of Commander); The Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand (First Class Grand Knight Cross); one (1) Presidential unit Citation Medal (south Vietnam); Vietnam Campaign Ribbon;

 Five (5) Presidential Unit Citation Badges; Anti-Dissidence Campaign Medal; Mindanao-Sulu Campaign Medal; Luzon Campaign Medal; and Visayas Campaign Medal.

He is two-time recipient of the Cavalier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Command and Administration from the PMA Alumni Association. He also a recipient of Alumni Achievement Award (Triple "A" Award) from the AIM Alumni Association. He has receive various plaques and commendation from military and civilian officials/organizations.

De Villa was also the chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), a coordinating body composed of Department Secretaries and heads of other bureaus and agencies tasked to oversee, on the national level, disaster management and mitigation, relief and rescue operations, rehabilitation of calamity areas, and assistance to disaster victims.

He is a native of San Juan, Batangas where he was born on July 20, 1935. He studied at the San Juan Elementary School and spent his secondary year at the Batangas Eastern Academy, also in San Juan. He enrolled for a year at the University of Santo Tomas, taking up Engineering before he took and passed the entrance tests at PMA.

He is married to the former Monica Barrica of Dipolog City with whom he has four children: Ma. Mercedes Josefina de Villacolet, Patrick Roland B. De Villa, Katherine Johanna B. De Villa and Michael Celestino B. De Villa.