MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte picked William Dar, a renowned agriculture expert, to head the Department of Agriculture (DA).
This was confirmed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea in a message to Rappler on Monday, August 5. Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo later on said Dar is acting secretary for now.
With his new appointment, Dar returns to a post he had assumed two decades ago. Dar had been agriculture chief from 1998 to 1999, during the administration of Joseph Estrada.
He was also Estrada's presidential adviser on food security in 1999.
But Dar is best known in the agricultural research community as a longtime director general of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat).
He led the global agricultural research institute for 3 5-year terms – from 2000 to 2014.
For this feat and other contributions, Dar received The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) Award in 2016 from Duterte.
In previous speeches, Duterte had said he planned to appoint a military man to head the DA, a continuation of his penchant for appointing retired military generals to critical civilian government posts.
But Dar has the support of influential Duterte adviser Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
"William Dar has the educational qualifications, domestic and international experience in the field of agriculture," said Dominguez in a message to Rappler.
Dar joins the other Ilocano members of the Duterte Cabinet. He hails from Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur. Other Ilocano Cabinet members are National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
Dar also writes a column for the Manila Times, a newspaper owned by Duterte's special envoy for international public relations.
Duterte decided to replace his first agriculture chief, Emmanuel Piñol, last June after finding his performance in the post lackluster.
Dar faces the pressure to deliver on improving a sector of the Philippine economy Duterte had once called the country's "weakest link." – Rappler.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.