Villar asks: Why Should We Rock the Boat by Changing the Guard at PhilMech Now?

Villar asks: Why Should We Rock the Boat by Changing the Guard at PhilMech Now?

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — A change in leadership in PhilMech now does not appear to be practical due to its sterling performance, especially with regards to its Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) program that improves Filipino rice farmers’ competitiveness and income amid the liberalization of our Philippine rice trade policy, said Sen. Cynthia A. Villar.

Since its implementation, Villar said RCEF under the leadership of PhilMech Director Dr. Baldwin Jallorina, has consistently enabled the government to provide farmers with modern machineries that significantly increased their yields and sustained the growth in agricultural production.

Villar, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, stressed that President Rodrigo Duterte, in his 2021 State of the Nation Address (SONA), commended RCEF because it stabilized rice supply and food prices.

But PhilMech is currently confronted with the impending replacement of Jallorina.

While emphasizing that she recognizes and respects that appointments made by the President are his exclusive prerogatives, Villar, however, said she is of humble opinion that “replacing the leadership of Jallorina disregards all that has been achieved by PhilMech, which he led passionately, within a short span of time. “

“The implementation of RCEF has been doing well because of all the agencies and people especially Dr. Jallorina, comprising the components,” said Villar.

The senator said the mandate of agricultural mechanization was given to PhilMech, to which 50% of the RCEF is allocated.

PhilMech under Jallorina, Villar also pointed out, was able to accomplish 82.75% of their targets by distributing various farm machinery equipment to qualified farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCA).

In effect, it benefitted at least 1.35 million farmer-members of 5,314 Farmers Coops or Associations and local government units (LGUs), in just three (3) years of implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) from 2019-2021.

To illustrate its effect, Villar related that the rice production level in 2019 was at 18.814 million MT.

However, she said that in 2020 the rice production level rose to 19.4 million metric tons and 19.96 million metric tons in 2021.

“It is clear that this has contributed to increasing in production, and has led to a significant drop in inflation because the price of rice in the market was stable,” said Villar, adding that this all happened under the administration of Jallorina.

Furthermore, Villar said the issue of removing Jallorina at PhilMech comes at a crucial time when the ban on midnight appointments is about to take effect.

She cited 15, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution which provides that “Two months immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the end of his term, a President or Acting President shall not make appointments, except temporary appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety.”

“On a grand scale, it is commonly interpreted as a prohibition against the outgoing President. But to a lesser degree, it is to be interpreted as that the Department head is prevented from continuing his control over a department or agency of the government after the end of his term.”

While it may be argued that this period of prohibition has not begun, Villar said “any form of appointment or transfers at this closing hour of the administration is prone to be interpreted by the public as “midnight appointment”.

In Velicaria-Grafil vs. Office of the President , a consolidation of cases that petitioned the Court to uphold the validity of appointments during the prohibition period, the Supreme Court enshrined the four elements of a valid appointment. To wit:

“The following elements should always concur in the making of a valid (which should be understood as both complete and effective) appointment: (1) authority to appoint and evidence of the exercise of the authority; (2) transmittal of the appointment paper and evidence of the transmittal; (3) a vacant position at the time of appointment; and (4) receipt of the appointment paper and acceptance of the appointment by the appointee who possesses all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications. The concurrence of all these elements should always apply, regardless of when the appointment is made, whether outside, just before, or during the appointment ban. These steps in the appointment process should always concur and operate as a single process. There is no valid appointment if the process lacks even one step.” (emphasis supplied.)

Even if the appointment in place of Jallorina took place prior to the period of prohibition, for emphasis’ sake, Villar said the foregoing requisites must be present, regardless of when the appointment was made.

The Court also held that an appointment can be made only to a vacant office. An appointment cannot be made to an occupied office. The incumbent must first be legally removed, or his appointment validly terminated or resigned, before one could be validly installed to succeed him.

“Dr. Jallorina has not been removed, nor his appointment validly terminated. Neither has he resigned. We are unaware of any complaint or issues presently lodged against him,” said Villar.

“In the absence of due process and judgment that an incumbent, such as Dr. Jallorina, is removed from his position, there is no valid reason in fact and in law to appoint a successor,” she added. (ai/mtvn)

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