President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. appointed on Friday industrialist and fishing magnate Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. as the new Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
In his speech, President Marcos said the appointment of Laurel to the DA only shows the importance of the partnerships between the private and the public sectors as he banked on the new secretary’s credentials to lead the DA.
The President added Secretary Laurel knows how the agricultural system works in the Philippines.
“Ang pagtingin natin sa ating private sector ay partner sa lahat ng mga ating gagawin. Kaya naman ang pagpasok ni Secretary Laurel sa kanyang position na Department of Agriculture Secretary ay para na natin sinama dahil matagal na siya sa industriya ng fisheries,” President Marcos said.
“Nagsimula siya sa pangingisda ngunit ‘yung mga iba’t ibang panig ng agrikultura ay napasukan na niya kaya’t nauunawaan niya, hindi lamang kung ano ‘yung problema kung hindi ang mga solusyon sa problemang ‘yun,” he added.
President Marcos added that Secretary Laurel’s connections will also be an advantage for the government to address the problems of the agricultural sector in the country including climate change.
“Kaya’t malaki ang trabahong ibinigay ko sa ating bagong Kalihim at handa naman kaming lahat, hindi lamang sa pamahalaan, kung hindi pati na sa private sector na siya’y tulungan dahil naging kaibigan na rin natin ito,” he said.
The new DA Secretary is the former president of the Frabelle Fishing Corp. from 1985 to Oct. 31, 2023 and a member of the agriculture sector group of the Private Sector Advisory Council (FSAC) of President Marcos.
Laurel also held positions in various companies including president of the Frabelle Shipyard Corp.; Chairman of the Westpac Meat Processing Corp.; Director of Frabelle Properties Corp. and president of the Markham Resources Corp.
He was also the former chairman of the Diamond Export Corp.; president of the Bacoor Seafront Development Corp. and chairman/president of Bukidnon Hydro Energy Corp. as well the Commander of the Naval Affiliated Reserve Force-National Capital Region.
Laurel is also the Chairman of the World Tuna Purse Seine Organization.
In his speech, Secretary Laurel said he wholeheartedly accepted the challenge to lead the DA as he thanked President Marcos for his trust and confidence and vowed to continue the advocacies and programs of the government in the agricultural sector.
Secretary Laurel said he will present to the public his programs for the DA in coordination with President Marcos.
“Pangunahing adhikain ko ang pagtiyak na sagana ang ating ani at siguraduhing ito ay nakakarating sa hapag ng bawat Pilipino. Layunin ko na tiyakin na may sapat at masustansyang pagkain na mabibili ang ating mga kababayan sa tamang halaga,” Secretary Laurel said.
“Susi dito ang modernisasyon ng sector ng agrikultura, kasabay ng [pagpapabuti] sa kapakanan ng mga kapatid nating magsasaka at mangingisda. Ating sisiguraduhin na sila’y makikinabang sa mga bunga ng kanilang pagod at pagsisikap,” he added.
Secretary Laurel said his office will remain open to all farmers and fishermen. He emphasized that he is close to the sector for he personally witnessed their struggles and their aspirations for the agricultural sector.
Laurel asked for cooperation from the public.
“Handa akong makinig at makatrabaho kayo. Higit sa lahat, ako’y handa na magtrabaho para sa inyo. Lubos po akong naniniwala na kaya nating mapalago ang produksyon ng ating agrikultura sa tulong ng ating Presidente, ngunit hindi ko ito kakayanin mag-isa,” Laurel said.
“Kailangan ko ang tulong at pakikiisa ninyo at ng buong Sambayanang Pilipino.”
Before Laurel’s appointment, President Marcos had to lead the agriculture department in order to introduce several reforms and programs, especially on addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s food supply and prices of basic commodities.
The President has also ensured support to farmers by providing them sufficient supply of seeds, fertilizers, farming equipment and irrigation, among other programs as he worked towards the commercialization of locally developed fertilizers and other agricultural technologies.
He also strengthened cooperatives for a more strategic delivery of interventions and expanded the KADIWA program to provide more citizens access to affordable food, and imposed the price ceiling on rice to control rising prices.
President Marcos had also facilitated the access of food products to markets abroad such as durian to the Chinese market, pili nut to the European Union, shallots to Indonesia and fresh mangoes to Australia.
The chief executive has also identified, arrested and filed charges against smugglers, who are plaguing the country’s rice supply chain, and seized and distributed to beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) thousands of sacks of smuggled rice.
President Marcos also noted that he also consolidated the value chain and maintained supply using clear importation schedules that ensure price stabilization for commodities like sugar in a bid to sustain growth of basic commodities in the market. | PND