Ex-DA chief Piñol to farmers, fisherfolk: ‘I’m sorry’

The P5.3-million Solar Powered Irrigation System (SPIS) in Barangay Barangay D.Lotilla in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat. Farmers are still waiting for a word from the DEpartment of Agriculture Region 12 as to when this would be turned over to them. April 3, 2019. Photo courtesy of Keith Bacongco

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/06 August) – Newly appointed Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chair Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol apologized to farmers and fisherfolk for his shortcomings as secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

“Pasensya na po sa mga pagkukulang ko (I am sorry for all my shortcomings),” Piñol said in a statement issued hours after the Palace announced his appointment on Monday.

Piñol, who will serve as MinDA chair for six years or until 2025, thanked former colleagues who helped him transform DA’s image as a corrupt agency.

He vowed to work just as hard in his new office.

“I was supposed to take my oath today as the new MinDA secretary but I asked for a short vacation which my tired body has been craving for,” he said.

The former DA chief replaced Secretary Abul Khayr Alonto who died of heart complications last May 9. Lawyer Nathaniel D. Dalumpines, assistant secretary for Mindanao Concerns, was appointed MinDA officer-in-charge last May 20.

William Dar has replaced Piñol as DA secretary.

Piñol said he submitted his courtesy resignation as DA secretary two months ago over differences with the government’s economic managers on some critical issues, including the passage of Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Import and Export Liberalization Law, making his stay at the agency “untenable.”

He said he would continue his work in agriculture and the economic growth of Mindanao, specifically the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

As the new MinDA head, he will also be the Philippine signing Minister for the Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia and Philippines East Asian Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), a 25-year old sub-regional economic cooperation initiative in Southeast Asia designed to spur economic development in the lagging sub-economies

BIMP-EAGA was founded in 1994 in Davao. Its focus areas include the entire sultanate of Brunei Darussalam; the provinces of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, West Papua and Papua in Indonesia; the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the federal territory of Labuan in Malaysia; and Mindanao and the province of Palawan in the Philippines.

The BIMP-EAGA economic cooperation focuses on four strategic pillars: Enhanced Connectivity, Food Basket Strategy, Tourism Development, and Environment. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)