Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Marcos hasn’t joined group meetings with DA officials in last 6 months, says Panganiban

Iya Gozum

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Marcos hasn’t joined group meetings with DA officials in last 6 months, says Panganiban

MARCOS. President Ferdinand Marcos at the opening ceremony of Livestock Philippines 2023 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City on July 5, 2023.

Presidential Communications Office

Instead, the President meets with the DA senior undersecretary 'twice a week' to relay his concerns related to his work as concurrent agriculture chief

MANILA, Philippines – The sheer workload of the presidency is affecting President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s engagement with the Department of Agriculture (DA) where he serves as concurrent agriculture chief.

In a House hearing on Tuesday, August 22 on the DA’s proposed 2024 budget, Northern Samar 1st District Representative Paul Daza asked if the President joins regular meetings with DA undersecretaries.

“In the last three months, or let’s say in the last 6 months, you’ve had two meetings with all the [undersecretaries], how many of those two meetings was the President present?”

“None,” said DA Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban. He did not expound on when Marcos last attended a DA meeting of high-ranking officials.

Panganiban said the DA has a management group of all the undersecretaries where they thresh out concerns once every three months. Aside from the senior undersecretary, it has an undersecretary for policy, planning and regulations; undersecretary for administration; undersecretary for finance; undersecretary for fisheries; undersecretary for special concerns and for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; undersecretary for rice industry development; undersecretary for livestock. 

Even though Marcos has not been able to join the regular meetings of these senior DA officials, Panganiban said the two of them meet twice a week. The chief executive relays his concerns through their biweekly meetings, he added.

“The issues and concerns that the President tell me are the concerns that I’m telling the undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and for that matter, even the directors,” said Panganiban.

Need for a full-time agri chief

This is the disadvantage of having a president as concurrent agriculture chief, said Daza.

“I don’t think it’s good governance, personally,” said Daza during the hearing. “I have the highest respect for the President. He means well but I think we need a full-time secretary.”

Daza is not the first person to raise this issue. Early this year, during the height of the onion fiasco when Congress was investigating the issue, senators were already calling for a full-time agriculture chief.

Aside from alleged onion smuggling and price manipulation, the DA also had to contend with the sugar import controversy.

The DA is now faced with higher prices of rice and is eyeing imports.

Marcos himself recognized the many things needed to accomplish in a huge department that’s concerned with many sectors, enterprises, and the issue of food security. Despite these controversies, Marcos said he would not step down as DA chief any time soon. – Rappler.com

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Iya Gozum

Iya Gozum covers the environment, agriculture, and science beats for Rappler.