Puyat receives French government's merit award

Outgoing Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has been recognized by the French government for her contributions to the agriculture sector.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat (Photo courtesy of the Embassy of France in the Philippines)

Puyat received the Ordre du Mérite Agricole (Order of Agricultural Merit) with the rank of Officer for her "decades-long commitment in supporting the agricultural sector and promoting food culture in the Philippines."

French Ambassador to the Philippines Michèle Boccoz said Puyat has "shown great commitment, perseverance, and openness to collaborate throughout her career in service of the Filipino people and of the agricultural sector in the Philippines."

France conferred the prestigious award to Puyat during an awarding ceremony held at the French Residence in Makati City on Tuesday, June 7.

She also served as Undersecretary for Special Concerns, Administration and Finance, and Agribusiness and Marketing at the Department of Agriculture from 2007 to 2018 in the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Benigno S. Aquino III and during the first two years of the Rodrigo Duterte presidency.

The French Ambassador cited Puyat’s contributions to Philippine agriculture, particularly in promoting Filipino agricultural products locally and abroad, supporting gender-inclusive agriculture, expanding and strengthening links between farmers, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, and distributors, and encouraging the adoption of modern techniques in the agricultural sector.

As Tourism Secretary from 2018 to 2022, Puyat continued to place agriculture as a priority through the promotion of agricultural and farm tourism, cultural heritage, and local gastronomy.

She was recently appointed as Deputy Governor by the Central Bank of the Philippines.

“Seeing firsthand the issues and concerns that our farmers and fisherfolk encountered on a daily basis, from getting their produce or seafood to the market, gaining ready access to credit, or needing to increase yields or efficiency, my colleagues and I went to such great lengths to bring greater attention to the country’s agricultural products, helping to give them the support they need, whether from a financial, marketing, or capacity-building standpoint, in order to boost their standard of living and sustain their livelihoods for the years to come,” Puyat said in her speech.

“I share this award with the people of the Philippines, most especially our farmers and fisherfolk, without whom we would not be standing here today,” she added.

Created in 1883 by then-French Agricultural Minister Jules Méline, the Order of Agricultural Merit is an honorific order conferred by the French government to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the agricultural and rural sector.