GENERAL SANTOS CITY (24 June 2016) – Incoming Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol has asked Mayor Ronnel Rivera to organize farmers of the city and undergo the cash-for-work program in preparation for incoming agricultural projects.
This conversation between Piñol and Rivera took place at the sidelines of the 7th Livestock, Swine Sector, and Supplier Night of South Cotabato Swine Producers Association (SOCOSPA) in Gensan on June 18.
As revealed by Piñol to different stakeholders during the event, he and Rivera already agreed that the latter will empower the farmers and fishermen in the city.
According to the incoming DA secretary, this is to ensure that entry of agricultural reforms to Gensan would be smooth and efficient.
“Tinanong ko si Mayor kung may irrigation programs siya. He told me yes. Sabi ko sa kanya, organize your farmers. Let them undergo the cash-for-work program. Palinisan natin yung mga canal at mga daanan ng tubig for irrigation. Yung consistent flow ng tubig will be the key na mayroong matatanim yung mga farmers mo,” said Piñol, narrating his conversation with Mayor Rivera.
Rivera, on the other hand, gladly accepted the task, as this is one of the top priorities of his administration.
“For me, I am glad that someone as supportive as Piñol would be heading the DA. At least, I know that when I do this project, sigurado talaga ako na may katuwang ako sa regional at national level,” the mayor said in an interview.
“Our agricultural sector is one of the biggest contributors in the economic mobility of the country. Kahit tingnan mo sa Gensan, the one industry that makes this city boom is the fishing. That’s why we are doing our best in the local government to give as much benefits to our agricultural sector.”
The mayor also bared his confidence that he can do more under the incoming administration of the President-elect Duterte.
“I am confident that we can give more to our constituents now that our president comes from Mindanao. Actually, sa kapitbahay lang nga ng Gensan,” Rivera said.
Piñol also promised to the different agricultural stakeholders that there will be no more smuggling in the Duterte administration.
“There will be no more smuggling. No more smuggling of pork. No more smuggling of beef. No more smuggling of chicken. No more smuggling of sibuyas. No more smuggling of rice,” Piñol assured.
“Actually, dalawa lang yung hiningi ni president-elect Rodrigo Duterte sa akin. Una, make sure that the country will be rice sufficient. Second, stop the corruption in the Department of Agriculture,” Piñol said. “We will be coming in and fulfilling the promise of change.”
Chester Warren Tan of the SOCOSPA also conveyed his hopes that the new administration will indeed give priority to the agricultural sector of the country.
Piñol is a former governor of North Cotabato (1998 – 2007).
One of his major accomplishments is the initiation of the bottom-up agricultural planning program which designed the priority crops approach in North Cotabato focusing on four major crops: rubber, oil palm, banana and coconut.
Mayor Ronnel Rivera is a second termer mayor of Gensan.
He advocated reforms in different local government institutions and programs in the city, which have been long forsaken by previous administrations.
Rivera hails from the fishing industry of Gensan and devoted much of his time there, before entering politics.
He is a known acquaintance of President-elect Duterte, as they are both enthusiasts of big bikes. (Gensan CPIO/ Ian John Lagare)