Incoming agri chief eyes background check on officials

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 31 2016 03:11 PM

MANILA - Incoming Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel "Manny" Piñol has formed an intelligence team that will conduct a background check on all incumbent officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its aligned agencies.

Piñol on Monday told ABS-CBN News that the intelligence team will do a lifestyle check on DA officials to ensure that the leaders are not tainted with corruption.

This, he said, is in line with the mandate of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to restore public confidence in government.

"I'd like to know who they are, ano ang kanilang lifestyle, ano ang kanilang record. The order of the President is very clear: anybody who is tainted with issues of corruption must go. We have to regain confidence and trust of people," he said.

He said the intelligence team will be composed of former military rebels, but he refused to detail if some were members of the Magdalo group.

Farming institutions have long been weakened with allegations of corruption.

Incumbent Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala himself has been linked to rice smuggling and the pork barrel scam.

Several local officials and lawmakers have also been tagged in the allegedly anomalous disbursement of fertilizer funds for farmers.

Apart from ridding the agriculture sector of corruption, Piñol will also face the deep-seated issues of smuggling, food security, aid for farmers suffering from low yields and irrigation concerns, among others.

During the interview, Piñol mentioned that he aims to increase local agricultural production and at least come closer to the target of 100-percent rice self-sufficiency.

He also promised to boost government aid for farmers.

The incoming Cabinet member also consulted with the National Food Authority (NFA), rice millers, traders and other stakeholders in Davao City Monday.

-- With reports from Christian Esguerra, ABS-CBN News