OPA head: Piñol would be a loss

Sun Star Bacolod - - Business -

IF AGRI­CUL­TURE Sec­re­tary Em­manuel Piñol re­signs, he would be a loss to the coun­try’s agri­cul­ture sec­tor, the top of­fi­cial of the Of­fice of the Pro­vin­cial Agri­cul­ture (OPA) of Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal said.

Pro­vin­cial Agri­cul­tur­ist Japhet Mas­culino said Piñol has in­tro­duced many in­no­va­tions on the pro­grams of the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture (DA).

Mas­culino said these in­clude easy ac­cess to credit, so­lar-pow­ered ir­ri­ga­tion, and ne­go­ti­a­tions with other coun­tries to open up their mar­kets to Philip­pine agri­cul­tural prod­ucts at low tar­iff, among oth­ers.

“He would be a loss to the agri­cul­ture sec­tor. But, Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte has yet to re­ceive his cour­tesy res­ig­na­tion so let’s wait and see what’s next,” he added.

The cab­i­net of­fi­cial was ear­lier re­ported to have re­signed as agri­cul­ture sec­re­tary.

This, amid “in­trigues” in the agency in­clud­ing al­le­ga­tions that Duterte has re­port­edly lost trust in him and he (Piñol) is on his way out.

Piñol, how­ever, clar­i­fied that the let­ter he sent to the Pres­i­dent is not a res­ig­na­tion let­ter rather a re­quest to re­lieve him of his post.

Piñol, in a re­port, said “it was a let­ter for re­lief that I’d be trans­ferred to other de­part­ments” be­cause of a lot of in­trigues cir­cu­lat­ing in the DA.

On Thurs­day, Duterte told Mala­cañang re­porters that Piñol will con­tinue to head the DA un­til his pos­si­ble re­as­sign­ment to the Min­danao De­vel­op­ment Author­ity (MINDA).

The Pres­i­dent said he was con­sid­er­ing ap­point­ing Piñol as the new head of MINDA, re­plac­ing the late Datu Abul Khayr Dang­cal Alonto who passed away on May 9.

“I can­not see any­body in the hori­zon, ex­cept Piñol, who knows and grew up, born in Min­danao. He’s a farmer and [for­mer] gover­nor. That MINDA po­si­tion is a Cab­i­net po­si­tion,” he added.

The agri­cul­ture sec­re­tary, who has roots in West­ern Visayas par­tic­u­larly in Iloilo, said he is the sol­dier of the Pres­i­dent so he will fol­low what­ever the lat­ter de­cides in­clud­ing his would-be as­sign­ment.

Un­der his lead­er­ship, the DA has ini­ti­ated in­ter­ven­tions specif­i­cally for farm­ers in Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal like al­lo­cat­ing P40 mil­lion as Pro­duc­tion Loan Easy Ac­cess (Plea) pro­gram fund.

Mas­culino said the pro­gram ini­tially cov­ered farm­ers in Sixth Dis­trict but has ex­panded all over the prov­ince as there are now ad­di­tional num­ber of con­duits.

This is on top of other projects in­clud­ing pro­vi­sion of farm ma­chiner­ies, rice seeds and boats for lo­cal fish­er­folk, among oth­ers.

Piñol also poised the prov­ince as the coun­try’s pi­lot area for “Bi­gas ng Masa” and “Ba­lik Binhi” pro­grams and pushed for sorghum pro­duc­tion as crop for silage and feeds in Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal.

As chair­man of the Na­tional Food Author­ity (NFA) Coun­cil, he sup­ported the trans­fer of Nfa-ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal from Bacolod City to the pro­vin­cial-gov­ern­ment run rice pro­cess­ing com­plex in Bago City.

It can be re­called also that lo­cal labor groups pre­vi­ously slammed and de­clared Piñol as “per­sona non grata” at the height of the is­sue on high fruc­tose corn syrup (HFCS).

Mas­culino said amid the pos­si­ble res­ig­na­tion or trans­fer of Piñol, they hope that his suc­ces­sor is some­one con­nected al­ready to agri­cul­ture so the learn­ing curve will be fast.

“We want the next agri­cul­ture sec­re­tary, if ever Piñol re­signs, to pri­or­i­tize the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Rice Com­pet­i­tive­ness En­hance­ment Fund (RCEF) to pre­pare the farm­ers to com­pete amid rice tar­if­fi­ca­tion,” he added.

FILE PHOTO

AGRI­CUL­TURE Sec­re­tary Em­manuel Piñol (left) with Pro­vin­cial Agri­cul­tur­ist Japhet Mas­culino (cen­ter) and Nfane­gros Oc­ci­den­tal Pro­vin­cial Man­ager Frisco Canoy (right) dur­ing his visit at the Rice Pro­cess­ing Com­plex in Barangay Tabunan, Bago City last year.

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