Philippines: New DA, budget chiefs named

  • William Dar has been named by President Duterte as acting secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA), replacing Emmanuel Piñol who is set to head the Mindanao Development Authority.
  • Dar will assume the post amid the controversy over the rice tariffication scheme, which local farmers say is killing their livelihood.
  • Duterte also named on 5 Aug 19 former Davao City administrator Wendel Avisado as acting budget secretary.
  • Avisado served as presidential assistant 1 in the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Special Concerns. He will be overseeing the budget as economic managers play catch-up on spending in 2H19, after the record four-month delay in the passage of the 2019 General Appropriations Act trimmed economic growth in 1Q19 to its slowest in four years.
  • Sen. Cynthia Villar hopes that Dar will prioritize the return of the funds intended for the programs that will help farmers after the expiration of the quantitative restriction on rice imports.
  • Villar, who chairs the Senate committee on agriculture and food, said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released PHP5bn in Dec 18 in anticipation of the enactment of Republic Act 11203 or the law creating the PHP10bn Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
  • Of the amount, only PHP1bn went to the RCEF program that provides farmers access to cheap credit through Landbank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.
  • Other agriculture stakeholders told The STAR that they welcome Dar, mostly saying that he is the best choice for the job. They also have laid down some points that Dar needs to address once he starts.
  • Meanwhile, Medialdea also confirmed the appointment of Court of Appeals Justice Rodil Zalameda to the Supreme Court. Duterte named Zalameda to fill the post of Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 on 29 Jul 19.

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