Piñol a good choice for MinDA, says biz leader

President Rodrigo Duterte and Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol at the National Banana Congress held at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City on October 7, 2016. ROBINSON NIÑAL/ Presidential Photo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 July) – Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol might be a good choice to head the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and to act as the Philippine signing minister for the Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia and Philippines East Asian Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), a business leader on Friday said.

Piñol had offered to resign from his position after President Rodrigo R. Duterte was reportedly displeased with his performance at the Department of Agriculture.

Mindanao Business Council chair Vicente T. Lao, in a text message, said he believes that Piñol, who became controversial over the rice shortage issue last year, will prioritize the interest of Mindanao.

The rice shortage was also blamed as one of the major reasons that pulled inflation rates up in 2018.

“He is a Mindanawon. He will have the interest of Mindanao at heart,” Mindanao Business Council chair Vicente T. Lao said in a text message.

According to an official of MinDA who spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter, the possible transfer of Piñol to MinDA bodes well for the agency as he brings with him “leadership expertise in agriculture”.

“With agriculture sector considered as a key driver for accelerated Mindanao growth, there’s much that MinDA under Sec. Piñol can work on to rally government agencies and Mindanao stakeholders along that development trajectory,” the official added.

Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao executive director Valente Turtur said Piñol’s experience as agriculture chief could be “of great help to develop the vast agricultural lands in Mindanao.”

Turtur said the secretary’s network with Mindanawon political leaders can help push MinDA’s development agenda.

Duterte told reporters in an interview in Malacañang on Thursday that he has yet to accept Piñol’s resignation.

He said he was planning to give the MinDA chairmanship to Piñol, which has remained vacant after the death of Secretary Datu Abul Khayr Alonto on May 9.

“I cannot see anybody in the horizon except Piñol who knows and grew up…was born in Mindanao and grew up there. He is a farmer, then a governor,” the President said.

“So, sabi ko kailangan ko ng timon (I said I need somebody at the helm. And that Mindanao [Development] Authority position is a Cabinet position. Sabi ko, ‘pumunta ka na lang doon, tulungan mo na lang ako.’ (I said, just go there, just help me) Get them started…hurry up, hurry them up so that they would have the first regular organized government that they have long wished for,” he said.

Lawyer Nathaniel D. Dalumpines, Assistant Secretary for Mindanao Concerns, was appointed as MinDA officer-in-charge last May 20.

Dalumpines served as chief of staff of then mayor Duterte from 2014 to 2016. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)