“Lest Carlos forgets, Piñol was forced to resign as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture in 2019 after his benefactor, outgoing resident Rodrigo Duterte, reportedly expressed dissatisfaction over his performance.”
Early this week, incoming National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos asked former Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol to lead a team of experts to ensure food security in the country.
“Following the energy of the universe, asking former DA Sec Piñol to head a team of experts/scholars on food security…great!” Carlos wrote on Facebook. Piñol readily accepted Carlos’ offer.
And this raises at least two questions: First, What would be Piñol’s professional relationship with incoming President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., given the fact the latter had also assumed the post of Agriculture Secretary?
And second, what was it really that Carlos considered in tapping Piñol’s services?
First things first. To head a team of experts to ensure food security is tantamount to naming him as food czar as that team would surely be a convergence of different agencies concerning food production.
And central among those agencies would be the Department of Agriculture which BBM will head. So, is Carlos saying Piñol would lead an inter-agency group which would include the President himself?
That would bring us to the second question: What exactly is Piñol bringing to the table that would earn him the right to lead an inter-agency group which happens to include no less than the incoming president himself?
Lest Carlos forgets, Piñol was forced to resign as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture in 2019 after his benefactor, outgoing resident Rodrigo Duterte reportedly expressed dissatisfaction over his performance.
Thus, aside from growing giant patolas in his backyard, what can Piñol cite as his accomplishment to merit Carlos’ trust?
A failure at DA and yet now being given a much bigger responsibility. And that is aside from the unimaginable fact President BBM will be submitting to him.
Chatting with a friend, Ado Paglinawan over the dilemma of Piñol’s appointment, I’ve learned that in the post-Marcos era (referring to the time of the father), I’ve learned there were only a few instances when the agriculture sector yielded positive results.
According to Paglinawan, who was a consultant to the Secretary of Agriculture from 2002 to 2004, the agriculture sector, from a national average of 2.9 percent annual growth, posted an average of 8.3 percent growth.
And that was, Paglinawan adds, despite the fact they only had P700 million for programs because, in Ado’s own words, “Jocjoc Bolante was filtering erstwhile program funds to his fertilizer ghost deliveries under our very feet.”
In the 20 months he was in office, the DA Secretary that time, Luis “Cito” Lorenzo, Paglinawan stressed, increased the national productivity average of agriculture from the historical 2.9 percent to 8.3 percent and achieved 97 percent rice sufficiency.
With a measly budget, Paglinawan said the DA under Lorenzo’s helm had more achievements for less money as the DA then ventured in proactive collaboration with the private sector, pioneering partnership with China, including bringing Yuan Longpin here to promote the hybrid rice variety, “as part of full blast support for research and technology that also produced the GetExcel variety for tilapias to be harvestable at palm size in three months and the hybrid corn development for animal feeds.
Paglinawan adds that it was during Cito’s time when the country exported lettuce and other high-value crops for the first time, which was made possible by the development of Nueva Ecija of vegetable terracing which gave Baguio/Trinidad Valley a good competition.
Lorenzo, Paglinawan said, also encouraged whistleblowers which led to the reduction of vegetable smuggling at the Bureau of Customs and the exposition of Jocjoc Bolante’s fertilizer scam.
I am not saying we should bring back Lorenzo, whose only misfortune, according to Ado, was having worked with Bolante.
But what I’m saying is that if ever we should find someone to head the team of experts to deal with food security, or putting it bluntly, a food czar, we should look for someone whose achievements go beyond giant patolas.
And why not the President himself, he being the head of the most crucial agency if ever that inter-agency is formed—the Department of Agriculture.
Maybe Professor Carlos should reconsider her decision on tapping Piñol’s services. We certainly don’t want this administration to fail, starting with her.