By Mario Casayuran
The Senate minority bloc welcomed Friday the appointment by President Duterte of William Dar as Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary.
Opposition Senator Francis N. Pangilinan said Dar’s appointment comes at a crucial time as rice farmers face tremendous pressure from unlimited imports and coconut and sugar farmers from low world prices to leave food production.
‘’Our fishermen are also being driven out of fishing areas that are rightfully and exclusively ours,’’ Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party (LP), said.
He was referring to the Chinese Coast Guard driving away the small fishing boats of Filipino fishermen at the Scarborough Shoal and other parts of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) that are well within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
With the Senate minority group behind him, Dar’s confirmation as DA chief may be considered a walk in the park at the 24-member bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA).
READ MORE: Dar appointed new DA chief
‘’If farmers and fishermen leave their work now for wage-secure jobs in construction here or abroad, it would be a surrender of the food security of our children; it would be a surrender of their and our country’s future,’’ Pangilinan said.
‘’We also welcome his eight paradigms to improve the agriculture sector and share in his goal to double farmers’ earnings,’’ he added.
Pangilinan stressed that the Philippine agriculture sector needs a strong advocate ‘’and Secretary Dar has the credentials to take up the cause to aggressively address the slow agricultural growth and stagnant incomes of the farmers and fisher folk who remain poorest of the poor.’’
‘’We will continue to work closely with the Department of Agriculture and Secretary Dar as we pursue these goals, particularly in crafting the IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations) of the Sagip Saka Act of 2019 whose thrusts are aligned with the new agriculture chief’s goal to achieve food security by focusing on the key players in producing food for us and our children,’’ he said.
Dar’s focus on raising farmers’ income is a good start, he added.
Pangilinan served as Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agriculture Modernization during the term of former President Benigno ‘’Nonoy’’ C. Aquino III.