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The Department of Agriculture officially welcomed its new Food Czar in the person of Mr. Emmanuel “Manny” Fantin Piñol during a simple turn-over ceremony held at the DA Central Office grounds last July 1, 2016. Sec. Piñol who prefers to be simply called “Manny” received from his predecessor, outgoing Secretary Proceso J. Alcala the DA Banner, official pin and 2015 Annual Report entitled Magandang Ani, Magandang Buhay which symbolize the turn over of responsibilities and rein as new head of the agency.

Sec. Piñol is the former Governor of Cotabato City and is also an active journalist and an agriculturist. Piñol vows to continue the legacy of Sec. Alcala in providing affordable, accessible and sufficient food for the Filipino people.

The turn over ceremony was preceded by the oath taking of newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte on June 1, 2016. Known to be a staunch supporter of Duterte, Sec. Piñol highlighted the significance of his cabinet position by mentioning the seating arrangement of cabinet officials during meetings with the President in Malacañang. “The Secretary of Agriculture sits right next to the President after Secretary Sonny Dominguez of the Department of Finance. That’s how important our Department (DA) is,” he said.

Recognizing the need for a strong support system who will provide him necessary assistance to be able to address the complex needs of the agriculture sector, Piñol introduced the new DA officials who will head various offices of DA.

Retained from among the Undersecretaries of the past administration of DA are Segfredo Serrano who will be the Undersecretary for Policy & Planning and Bernadette Romulo-Puyat as Undersecretary for Administration and Finance & at the same time as Chief of Staff.

Others are Evelyn Lavinia, Usec. for Agribusiness and High Value Crops; Atty. Ranibai Delangalen, Usec. for Special Concerns; and Retired Commodore Eduardo Gongona as Usec. for Fisheries and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director.\

Also introduced were Sec. Piñol’s younger brother, Ferdinand “Bobong” Piñol as his Executive Assistant; Retired Admiral Joey Casilia, and Atty. Tom Fawti, (personal lawyer of Senator-elect Manny Pacquiao) will serve as fisheries consultants.

Atty. Francisco Villano, Jr. will be the Assistant Secretary for Finance; former priest Father Lerey Panes as the ASec. for Planning, Project Development and Special Projects; Atty. Hansel Didulo as ASec. for the Visayas; Dr. Enrico Garzon as ASec. for Livestock; and Richard “Bong” Año II as Asec. for Operations.

Since he can only recommend and not appoint, Piñol announced that he has recommended to President Duterte new heads of the National Irrigation Administration and the National Food Authority Engr. C'zar Sulaik, a former Regional Executive Director for CARAGA and Atty. Domingo Duerme, a former Vice-President of Philippine Airlines in Mindanao, respectively.

At the regional level, Piñol announced that he will also assign new set of Regional Directors of the Regional Field Offices although some will be retained but will be reshuffled.

Affirming his official capacity as the new DA Secretary, Piñol likewise announced his first memorandum for all DA employees. Subject of the memo include the new prescribed dress code for employees which is as simple as plain white or blue colored shirt/blouse and simple jeans/black knee-length skirt (for ladies) or slacks. He said that dressing simple would encourage farmers to feel at ease and be more comfortable interacting with DA officials and staffs to communicate their needs and concerns. Smoking and drinking in all DA premises is also prohibited and a mandatory health check up for all employees twice a year which include drug test shall be imposed.

Re-echoing the order of the President, Piñol likewise ordered all DA Field Offices, Bureaus and attached agencies and Corporations to adhere in making all government transactions simple with lesser requirements, signatories and shorter processing period.
Observing austerity measures, the turn over ceremony was attended only by DA officials and staffs at the DA Central Office while all RFOs managed to witness the historical transition through live streaming via DA’s official Facebook account.

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DA-RFO 1 employees at the conference room   watching the live streaming of the turn over ceremony...

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