Panganiban: DA secretary “in an acting capacity”

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Catherine Talavera – The Philippine Star

08/17/2022 | 12:00 noon

MANILA, Philippines — As undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Domingo Panaganiban said he will also perform the functions of secretary “as in an acting capacity.”

“As in office, but the president will still decide,” Panganiban said in an interview on Radio dzRH.

Panganiban said his oath of office describes his appointment as senior secretary of state for agriculture.

In a Facebook post earlier this week, Marcos revealed that Panganiban was sworn in as Secretary of State for Agriculture on August 12.

“I salute Mr. Domingo F. Panganiban who took the oath of office on August 12, 2022 as Under Secretary of Agriculture. It is an honor to work with our experts to address the needs of our nation, particularly on the local level of agriculture,” said the President, who is also Minister of Agriculture, in Filipino.

Panganiban served as chief of agriculture during the Estrada and Arroyo governments. During the Arroyo administration, he also headed the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

Panganiban was an on-site implementer of Masagana 99, a key program of Marcos’ father and namesake aimed at boosting rice production.

He was also Presidential Assistant for Agriculture during the presidency of the late Fidel V. Ramos.

Asked about his priorities in the prosecutor’s office, Panganiban stressed the need to focus on rice and corn.

“That’s why we looked at that yesterday, we looked at the rice and corn program. We’ll know where we are in the next two or three days, whether or not we have enough rice to sell to those around us in Metro Manila’s markets,” he said in Filipino.

Panganiban also stressed the need to lower fertilizer and pesticide prices and ensure adequate irrigation so that the country can meet its goal of rice sufficiency.

Meanwhile, National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Undersecretary Paterna Ruiz said the government must continue to strengthen the agricultural sector and boost rural economic development to tackle poverty – currently at 18.1 percent, or about 20 million Filipinos.

“We need to strengthen the backbone of our economy and that is agricultural development and secondly we need – the development of the economy should reach the rural areas, not just the urban and urban centres,” Ruiz told One News am’s The Big Story Monday.

The Philippines Statistics Agency (PSA) said Monday an estimated 19.99 million Filipinos lived in poverty in 2021 as the country continues to weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

These individuals lived below the poverty line of about 12,030 pesetas a month for a family of five, the PSA said.

Ruiz said the P12,030 poverty line is not enough for families living in urban areas like Metro Manila.

“For rural areas, the P12.030 is good enough because the cost of living is very low. The big challenge in our urban areas is how they survive, especially since you have to rent, pay for electricity, for food, for kids to go to school,” she said.

“We’re in a cash economy, an anti-poverty initiative should have that perspective,” Ruiz said, citing the need to increase Filipino incomes.

The official cited the institutionalization of the conditional cash transfer system, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps, as one of the country’s anti-poverty strategies.

Aside from the cash assistance, she said the government must be able to address rising food prices and economically develop the rural areas where the majority of the population lives. – Helen Flores

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