Article from Manila Bulletin

KIDAPAWAN CITY — Incoming Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol presented his chosen undersecretaries and directors during a farmers’ congress held here on Friday.

During the activity aptly themed as “First Farmers and Agri-Stakeholders’ Forum,” Piñol named as undersecretaries lady lawyer Ranibai Delangalen of Maguindanao and Bernadeth Romulo-Puyat, daughter of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and the only incumbent undersecretary he retained in office.

He said Evelyn Laviña of Davao City will head the DA-High Value Crop Program, while Pompy Laviña, a businessman from Cagayan de Oro City, will oversee the DA’s Entrepreneur Program for Farmers.

In addition, Pinol has tapped lawyer Jovy Bernabe to head the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC); Engr. Ceasar Sulaik, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA); and Commodore Eduardo Gongona, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

Moreover, Pinol said Hazel Sto. Niño will serve as assistant secretary for special concerns while Ferdinand Piñol, his brother and former M’lang town administrator, will be his executive assistant.

Pinol also introduced Engr. Mila Casis of Pigcawayan, North Cotabato, as new DA Region 12 chief who will replace outgoing DA Region 12 Director Amalia Jayag-Datukan.

Piñol said the incoming agriculture officials were chosen based on their experience, capability and dedication to public service.

To the delight of the farmers, Pinol committed to eliminate corruption in the agency and alleviate the lives of poor farmers, specifically in the region, as his program under incoming President Rodrigo Duterte will focus on rice sufficiency program to cope with the current shortage of 1.8 million metric tons of rice.

For a start, Piñol promised the farmers free palay and corn seeds and fertilizers in two successive cropping seasons.

“This is a start to give you (farmers who suffered the recent El Niño effects) a good chance to improve your lives and the next generation,” he stressed.