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Budget chief Avisado bypassed by CA

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star
Budget chief Avisado bypassed by CA
Bypassing takes place when Congress adjourns session and the CA has yet to confirm the appointment of an official subject to its processes. The legislature officially adjourned for its month-long Christmas break yesterday.
The STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Appointments (CA) has bypassed Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado after confirming Secretary William Dar’s appointment to the Department of Agriculture (DA).            

Bypassing takes place when Congress adjourns session and the CA has yet to confirm the appointment of an official subject to its processes. The legislature officially adjourned for its month-long Christmas break yesterday.

When bypassed, an official has to be issued a new appointment by the president.

Avisado replaced former budget secretary and now Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno. He served as city administrator of Davao City when President Duterte was its mayor.

The bypassing of the budget chief comes at a time when Congress is preparing to submit the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for next year to the President, who will most likely ask the Department of Budget and Management to review it.

Avisado could be subject to pressure from certain lawmakers since his appointment has not been confirmed and he is therefore not holding his job in a permanent capacity.

In Dar’s case, the CA confirmed him on Wednesday after the commission’s committee on agriculture chaired by Rep. Florencio Noel of party-list group An Waray voted to endorse him.

In endorsing the DA secretary, Noel described him as an “action man” who could propel agriculture to the growth path.

The President appointed Dar in August to replace then secretary Emmanuel Piñol after the Chief Executive and his economic managers expressed dismay over the dismal performance of agriculture, which has been holding back the nation’s economic growth.

For some years, agriculture even registered negative growth despite the tens of billions Congress has been appropriating for it in the annual budget.

Lawmakers, farmers and other farming groups are pinning their hopes on Dar to improve the agriculture sector’s performance.

The DA secretary is described as an “expert on agriculture,” having worked for some international organizations involved in agriculture and research, and served as DA chief under the Estrada administration.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who was agriculture secretary during the Aquino administration, said Dar’s “background and professional experience would do well in the job for the benefit of millions of Filipinos who work in agriculture.” 

However, in his first few months as secretary, palay prices dropped to levels below production cost, resulting in billions of losses for rice farmers.

Some lawmakers have accused him of failing to take aggressive measures to prop up prices despite remedies available to him under the law, like the imposition of higher tariff for rice imports.

The low palay prices have been blamed on the flood of imported rice in the market, which reportedly brought down retail prices of the staple. Traders and middlemen peg their buying rates for palay on rice prices.

COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS

WENDEL AVISADO

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