Thursday, August 30, 2018

Piñol writes open letter to lawmakers over resignation calls: "I serve at the pleasure of the President"



Agri Secretary told by lawmakers to resign due to rice shortages in some regions / combined photo from Inquirer and UNTV



Minority bloc in the House of Representatives on Wednesday demanded Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol’s resignation over his supposed incompetence that caused rice shortages in some regions and the soaring of its prices in the market.

This move came after Senator Cynthia Villar, chairman of the Senate committee on food and agriculture, cited that the rice situation in the country has worsened under Piñol.


In the House, the bloc led by Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez urged Piñol, National Food Authority Administrator Jason Aquino, and members of the NFA Council led by Secretary Leoncio Evasco, to resign for incompetence and failure to protect the farmers and fisher folks in some parts of Mindanao.

Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, also from the minority bloc, said that the looming acute rice shortage is the biggest national threat.

 "If he cannot handle the job, he might as well resign. They [Piñol, Aquino and the rest of NFA Council officials] should all resign,” Atienza added

Meanwhile, the DA chief brushed aside the calls for his resignation, saying he should not be blamed for the failures of others, and that the National Food Authority is not under his department.

The agriculture secretary said in an open letter posted on his Facebook page that he volunteered to help resolve the crisis since nobody is currently prioritizing the situation.

Below is Secretary Piñol’s complete post:

MY DEAR CONGRESSMEN:THE NFA IS NOT UNDER DA

Several Congressmen today called for my resignation because of the Rice Supply and Rice Bukbok issues involving the National Food Authority.

Perhaps, our dear legislators do not realize that the NFA is NOT under the Department of Agriculture.

The reason why I figured prominently in the raging rice supply and price issue was because I volunteered to help resolve the problem since nobody in government was on top of the situation.

When the “rice crisis “ in the ZAMBASULTA Area broke out, I called up Exec. Secretary on a rainy morning of Aug. 13 and volunteered to fly to Zamboanga City to assess the situation.

As of last Friday, the ZAMBASULTA Rice Crisis was resolved.*

They will have rice supplies good for six months as the NFA Council approved my recommendations for additional stocks.

Tumutulong lang po ako at pinakialaman ko na maski hindi ko trabaho.

Why blame me for the Rice Bukbok issue?

The DA has nothing to do with rice importation.

The DA is only involved in production and records will show that in 2017, the harvest was a historic high of 19.28-million metric tons, higher by 1.6-million metric tons than the 2016 production.

In spite of the recent storms, rice production this year is still expected to be another historic high at 19.4-million metric tons.

We are now 93% self sufficient and we project to hit 95% self sufficiency by 2019.

On the issue of Galunggong importation, I take full responsibility because BFAR is under the DA.

Given a chance to explain, I believe the legislators will understand the program.

On their call for my resignation because of these issues, my response would be: I serve at the pleasure of the President.

If the President says he is not happy with my performance, I would gladly pack up my bags and go home to my farm.

My only consolation would be that I am not facing issues of corruption.