Panganiban: DA secretary ‘in acting capacity’

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star
Panganiban: DA secretary âin acting capacityâ
President Marcos swears in Domingo Panganiban as undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture as shown in a photo posted on the President’s official Facebook page yesterday. Panganiban served as agriculture secretary under former presidents Joseph Estrada in 2001 and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2005.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — As undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Domingo Panaganiban said he would also exercise functions of a secretary “like in acting capacity.”

“Like in-acting capacity, but the President will still decide,” Panganiban said in an interview over radio dzRH.

Panganiban said his oath of office specifies his designation as agriculture senior undersecretary.

In a Facebook post earlier this week, Marcos revealed that Panganiban was sworn in as agriculture undersecretary last Aug. 12.

“I greet Mr. Domingo F. Panganiban, who took his oath as undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture on Aug. 12, 2022. It is an honor to work with our experts in responding to the needs of our nation, especially in the field of agriculture,” the President, who is also the agriculture secretary, said in Filipino.

Panganiban served as agriculture chief during the Estrada and Arroyo administrations. He also led the National Anti-Poverty Commission during the Arroyo administration.

Panganiban was a field-level implementer of Masagana 99, a key program of Marcos’ father and namesake, which aimed to boost rice production.

He was also presidential assistant for agriculture during the presidency of the late Fidel V. Ramos.

Asked about his priorities in the DA, Panganiban stressed the need to focus on rice and corn.

“That’s why we were looking at it yesterday, we were looking at the rice and corn program. We will know in the next two or three days where we are, if we have enough rice to sell to our fellowmen in the markets in Metro Manila or not,” he said in Filipino.

Panganiban also stressed the need for bringing down the prices of fertilizers, pesticides as well as ensuring enough irrigation to enable the country to achieve its goal of rice sufficiency.

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

“We have to strengthen the backbone of our economy and that is agricultural development and second is we have to – the development of the economy should reach to the rural areas not only to urban and town centers,” Ruiz told One News’ The Big Story on Monday.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Monday said an estimated 19.99 million Filipinos lived in poverty in 2021 as the country continues to live through the COVID-19 pandemic.

These individuals lived below the poverty threshold of about P12,030 per month for a family of five, the PSA said.

Ruiz said the P12,030 poverty threshold is not sufficient for families living in urban areas such as Metro Manila.

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

“We are in a cash economy, poverty reduction initiative should have that perspective,” Ruiz said, citing the need to increase Filipinos’ income.

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

Apart from the cash aid, she said the government must be able to address the rising food prices and bring economic development to rural areas, where a majority of the population reside. – Helen Flores


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