By Junex Doronio
June 23, 2022
Former DA Secretary manny Pinol (Credits: GMA Network)
MANILA — the Senate may have missed an advocate for the farmers’ interests but the country still stands to gain with the appointment on Thursday of former Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol as food security adviser to incoming National Security Adviser (NSA) Clarita Carlos.
With the one-year ban for losing candidates to be appointed in any government position, the legal maneuver, however, is they can still be tapped as service of contract or job order that has no employer-employee relationship or consultants or advisers.
To recall, shortly after the 2010 presidential elections then President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III appointed his losing running mate Manuel “Mar” Roxas as his adviser.
“Yes [I was picked]. Actually, si Secretary Clarita Carlos kaibigan kong matagal na [has been my friend for so long]. She was my consultant when I was DA Secretary,” Piñol said in an interview on Dobol B TV.
Piñol said he agrees with Carlos that food security should be considered as a national security concern.
In 2017, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte appointed Piñol, a former journalist and ex-governor of North Cotabato, as Agriculture secretary but resigned in 2019 after a supposed conflict with the Duterte administration’s economic team.
Piñol revealed that the Philippines was close to reaching rice self-sufficiency in 2017 but it was hindered by the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law, which allows more importation.
“Unfortunately, sinagasaan tayo ng [we were hit by] rice tariffication,” he lamented.
The former Agriculture secretary said he recommended a rice sufficiency strategy roadmap that would focus on irrigation, the use of high quality hybrid and inbred seeds, fertilizers, and the setting up of “good price.”
Before resigning in disgust, Piñol said he already organized a P40-billion loan from Israel to build a solar-powered irrigation system, including technical support, that can cover 500,000 hectares.
“Anong nangyari? Nandoon, natutulog sa [National Economic and Development Authority – Investment Coordination Committee] yung offer ng Israel na P40 billion na pautuang,” he said.
Piñol claimed that building the project would only take three months.
He added that it would be faster compared to the construction of traditional irrigation from dams.
Piñol also affirmed that rice should have good pricing because profitability motivates productivity. (ai/mtvn)