Why Marcos Jr. is staying as Agriculture chief

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 23 2023 11:59 PM

MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday explained that he has yet to hand over the helm of the Department of Agriculture to a Cabinet secretary as there is still a need to “restructure the bureaucracy.”

There are “multifaceted problems” in the agriculture sector that can be more quickly addressed if the chief executive is the head of the DA, Marcos Jr. told journalists.

“Kapag hindi nila ginawa yung utos ko, puwede nilang sitahin. ‘Yung secretary, it can still be may pakiusap pa,” he said.

“That’s what I bring to the position. When I make a decision, when I make a plan, kailangan masunod ‘yun. If not, I can chastise them, move them aside, push them into other positions,” he said.

“In general, if the president asks you, you do it. We want to take that wiggle room out of that system,” he added.

Marcos Jr. earlier said that the DA will now “maintain a 2-month buffer stock… to mitigate the speculation” of a possible shortage among traders and buyers.

“Normal sa negosyante na kapag alam nila na magkakashortage, they will keep it hanggang tumaas yung presyo,” he said.
 
“You can call it hoarding but it is a business practice that we hope to avoid,” he said.

The importation of necessary agricultural products will not be done through a “one lump of importation at the start of the year,” but will have “to come at a proper time to avoid competing with local farmers,” he said.

“Once I know that the value chain has been put together… We have the means then we have a plan, then we will have a Secretary who will take my place and implement that plan,” he said.

“We have to restructure the bureaucracy… There are still many things that we need to do,” he said.

The government also needs to address the lack of fertilizers and wheat exports despite the “shocks that will hit the global economy and the supply chain probs we see everywhere,” Marcos Jr. said.

Farmers also have to be taught new techniques in planting and harvesting, he said.

In an earlier interview, Marcos Jr. said he wants an agricultural expert to be the next DA secretary.

“Kailangan eksperto sa agrikultura. Agriculture is a very complicated subject. Hindi lang kung sino-sino basta’t magaling mag-manage," Marcos said.

"They have to understand the science… They have to understand the solution. They also have to understand the system,” he added.