Erroneous read of Kiko’s record as food security secretary
THIS REFERS to Prof. Winnie Monsod’s column “Talking about the next president” (Opinion, 11/28/15). She says, based on the latest data on agricultural performance for the third quarter of 2015, Kiko Pangilinan has nothing to show for from his stint as former presidential assistant for food security and agricultural modernization secretary.
Blaming Pangilinan is quite unfair considering that he was in the executive department for only one year and five months, appointed in the second quarter of 2014 to oversee four agencies formerly under the Department of Agriculture: the National Food Authority (NFA), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA), and Philippine Coconut Authority.
It must be stressed that in the short period he oversaw the four agencies, innovative reforms and groundbreaking accomplishments were achieved:
For the first time in nearly 20 years, the NFA turned in a profit of P1.875 billion due to the implementation of more transparent and strategic importation policies and operational reforms. An unprecedented repeated rejection of bids, the first time in the history of the NFA, resulted in P7-billion savings for government. “Has ‘daang matuwid’ finally enveloped the NFA?” wrote Manuel Bondad of Barangay Palanan, Makati City, in an Oct. 15 Inquirer letter to the editor, citing the lowering of prices of NFA rice imports during Pangilinan’s tenure. “In the grains agency, the number shows outgoing President Aquino’s ‘straight path’ footprints may have set in finally. It was worth the long wait,” Bondad concluded.
The cocolisap outbreak was in its height when Pangilinan assumed office, with over two million trees in five provinces heavily infested. Leading the integrated regionwide pest management intervention program in cooperation with other government public agencies, the 58 hotspots in May 2014 are now down to one.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization in a May 2015 mission report cited the integrated effort as “praiseworthy and commendable.”
Pangilinan worked for an 80-percent increase in the 2016 budget of the FPA, paving the way for the doubling of the FPA’s staff complement resulting, in turn, in the strengthening of its regulatory authority over the pesticide and fertilizer industries. In the NIA, he paved the way for the approval by the National Economic and Development Authority of over P30 billion worth of irrigation projects among them those in Balog-balog in Tarlac, the Agno River project in Pangasinan, the Malinao project in Bohol, the Umayam River project in Agusan del Sur.
These accomplishments would have a lasting impact on the agencies and their beneficiaries. It is, therefore, untrue that Pangilinan “has nothing to show for,” and it is clear that Monsod’s information on his performance as food security secretary is inaccurate.
A detailed end-of-term report published by our office can be accessed at http://kikopangilinan.com/securing-the-food-of-100-million-filipinos/
—RACHEL GILLEGO, chief of staff, Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization