Drilon: Two-headed DA does not help poorly performing agri sector

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Thursday, August 21, 2014


SENATE President Franklin Drilon repeated his warnings on Thursday on the rapid decline of the agricultural sector as he urged President Benigno Aquino III to finally decide on who exactly will lead the agriculture sector.

"Sa akin po isa talaga sa mga dapat tingnan ng Pangulo ay kung sino ba talaga ang dapat na agricultural secretary. Ang nakita nga natin, bumababa ang agricultural sector, at ang paglago ng agricultural sector ay less than 1 percent because of the calamities," Drilon said.

The Senate chief took exception on the saying, "two heads are better than one."

"In this particular case, the saying 'two heads are better than one' does not apply," Drilon told reporters. "Talagang pong nakikita natin na bumabagsak ang agricultural sector ng bansa."

He urged Malacanang to give particular importance to the agricultural sector, which comprises one-third of the country's labor force.

He cited that poverty incidence is rising in the rural areas largely due to slowdown in agricultural growth.

"Kapag hindi lumalaki ang agricultural sector, eh direktang ang mga mahihirap ang naaapektuhan," Drilon warned.

Drilon explained that while two heads in the agri sector does not necessarily explain the slowdown, having two heads certainly does not help.

"Hindi naman siguro dahil ito sa dalawa ang namumuno. Pero hindi po siguro nakakatulong ang na dalawa ang numumuno habang hindi magandang performance agricultural sector," he said.

Drilon cited that even the agriculture department's budget is split into two.

"I think we need to have a point man – kung sino ba talaga. Kahit sa budget, magkaiba – they have split the agencies into agricultural departments. I strongly suggest that this should be reviewed," the Senate leader said.

Drilon said that 11 percent of the country's economy is contributed by the agricultural sector -- one-third of our labor force is in the rural sector, and two-thirds of the country's poorest families belong to the agriculture sector.

"So malaki talaga ang naibabahagi ng agrikultura sa ating kabuhayan, at sa ating bansa. The success of our agricultural sector will really alleviate our poverty incidence. Maraming mahihirap sa kanayunan, at kapag nagimprove ang agrikultura ay marami ang matutulungan," Drilon added.

He admitted that both Secretaries Alcala and Pangilinan are qualified but subordinates get confused whom to follow.

"Ang problema kasi, pag dalawa kayong boss ay mahirap sa mga subordinate na, 'Sino ba ang susundin namin dito sa dalawa?'" he said.

"Halimbawa nalang sa national irrigation Authority. Sa ilalim ng batas, ang chairman ng NIA Board ay ang Secretary of Agriculture. Pero ang NIA, nilagay under kay Secretray Kiko Pangilinan. So hindi siya naman pwede magpreside sa meeting. Ganuon din sa National Food Authority sa rice. Under the law, ang Secretary of the DA ang naumumuno diyan, at hindi mo sila pwede palitan dahil sa nasa batas po iyan," he added.

This, Drilon said, slows down the flow of agency work.

"Halimbawa, sa NIA (National Irrigation Administration), ang irrigation po, hindi pwede na yung budget for the rice program nakay Secretary Alcala, pero ang pagtatayo ng mga irrigation at canals ay na kay Secretary Kiko (Francis Pangilinan). Kaya may unnecessary difficulties," the senator said.

Senator Francis Escudero shared a similar view on the issue.

"Kahit ang Diyos wala akong alam na nilikhang hayop o animal na dalawa ang ulo. Alam ko iisa lang ang ulo ng lahat ng nilikha niya. Ibon man, naglalakad man ng apat na paa lumalangoy sa dagat, alam ko iisa lang palagi ang ulo. Isang rason din siguro yun kung bakit bumababa ang performance ng agricutural sector natin," Escudero said.

He said that the deficiencies in performance may be a result of conflicting decisions coming from the two heads.

"Ako mismo tatanungin ko sa budget deliberations dahil baka kaya napakaraming kakulangan sa department of agriculture, sa agricultural sector dahil sa tila conflicting na lumalabas na mga kautusan mula sa dalawang ulo ng agriculture department," he said.

"Kung isusuma mo yung budget ng NFA at tsaka yung budget ng PCA yan ay mahigit kalahati na ng budget ng Agriculture. Kaya lumalabas talaga na tila dalawa ang ulo ng departamentong ito," he added.

Escudero explained that while a division of labor may be useful it should be made clear.

"Okay ang division of labor basta maliwanag kung sino yung amo at sino yung sumusunod, kung sino yung commander, kung sino yung mas mababa yung ranggo, sa kasong ito tila pareho sila," he said.

It is not necessary to remove one, Escudero explained, but it is essential to clarify the command structure.

"Kailangang liwanagin yung command structure sa Department of Agriculture at tsaka ang lumalabas nito si Secretary Alcala pwedeng pumirma sa kontrata. Si Secretary Pangilinan ba pwede ring pumirma sa kontrata o tiga-utos lang siya? Napaka-unique naman ng sitwasyon niya kung saka-sakali na ang pipirma ng kung anong kontrata at may liability sa anumang gagawin yung mga tao lang at siya wala dahil wala siyang authority pumirma o i-bind yung ahensiya," he added. (Camille P Balagtas/Sunnex)

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