Piñol is new NFA Council chairman, HUDCC moved to OP

MANILA, Philippines – Through an executive order (EO), President Rodrigo Duterte made Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol the new National Food Authority Council (NFAC) chairman and transferred the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) to the Office of the President.

EO No. 62, signed on Monday, September 17, changed the NFAC composition, replacing its former head, Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr, with Piñol.

Duterte had removed Evasco from the council, the government's policy-making body on rice and food security, last April, for supposedly engaging in a "turf war"  with other officials and for supposedly being "too short-sighted."

Evasco had locked horns with NFA Administrator Jason Aquino. The NFA administrator serves as the NFAC vice chairperson.

Aquino is now also no longer in the NFAC as Duterte is replacing him after he supposedly asked to be relieved. This came amid public frustration over rising prices of rice and lack of cheap NFA rice in some parts of the country. (READ: [OPINION] Solving our 'unli' rice crisis)

Piñol's new role comes after trade department officials and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III told Duterte in Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) situation briefings that there was a need to put someone in charge of decisions on NFA rice after Aquino was relieved and no one had replaced Evasco as NFAC chairman.

EO No. 62 also states that the agriculture secretary can choose to delegate the role of NFAC chairman to an undersecretary of their choice.

The same EO formalized Duterte's order last April to return the NFA, Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), and Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority (FPA) to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

During the presidency of Benigno Aquino III, these 3 agencies, plus the National Irrigation Administration, were put under the newly created Office of the Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization amid allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the DA under Proceso Alcala.

Come Duterte's presidency, his first EO transferred the NFA, PCA, and 10 other agencies to Evasco's office, as he wanted the Cabinet secretary to be in charge of all poverty alleviation efforts.

One of these agencies was HUDCC.

Thus, with Duterte's latest EO, Evasco loses jurisdiction over 3 offices – the NFA, PCA, and HUDCC.

HUDCC, headed by housing czar Eduardo del Rosario, will now be directly under Duterte's office. 

The transfers are meant to "ensure efficiency and coordination in the performance of their respective mandates," according to the new EO.

Evasco's office now supervises only 9 offices:

– Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.