Mixed feelings on Yap return

By Jennifer A. Ng

Businessmirror, October 20, 2006



FARMERS and industry groups on Thursday aired mixed reactions to the decision of Malacañang to bring back Arthur C. Yap to the Department of Agriculture (DA).
While a number of industry groups welcomed Yap’s return, some sectors have expressed concern over the “frequent changing of the guards” at the DA.
The Rice Watch and Action Network (R1), for one, said it is “dismayed” by Yap’s reappointment.
“His reappointment clearly shows Malacañang only used (Domingo F. Panganiban) as a spare tire to let the DA hot seat cool down a bit with Yap facing tax-evasion charges last year. The farmers do not see a new beginning for the agriculture sector,” said R1 Lead convenor Jessica Reyes-Cantos.
While the hog raisers welcome the appointment, the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. are concerned over the frequent changes in leadership in such a critical department.
“Hopefully, [Yap] will stay on as DA chief until the President completes her term so that the continuity of certain programs in the department would not suffer,” said federation chief Albert Lim Jr.
Lim noted that since 2000 when he first assumed office as NHFHI chief, he has dealt with seven secretaries.
But carrageenan producers led by the Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines (SIAP) do not mind the change of guard at the DA as the department has always supported the seaweed industry.
“[Panganiban’s] predecessors including Yap has always been willing to help us so we see no problem with his return to the DA,” said SIAP president Benson U. Dakay.
The Philippine Association of Feed Millers Inc. (Pafmil), for its part, said it does not mind the change in leadership for as long as there will be no major shift in the DA’s policy.
“It’s not really a matter of guards. For as long as policies in the DA remain consistent, we’re OK with anybody who gets appointed,” said Pafmil executive director Ric Pinca.
Malacañang has already announced a minor revamp in the Cabinet. Yap will go back to the DA while Panganiban will be moved to the National Antipoverty Commission (NAPC), but it’s a position he has not yet accepted.
Agriculture Secretary Domingo F. Panganiban earlier said he will abide by the decision of Malacañang to leave the Department of Agriculture.
“I have done my share and if my best is not good enough, there is nothing I can do. I serve at the pleasure of the President,” said Panganiban when asked about his reaction to the minor revamp.
Panganiban, who will move to the National Antipoverty Commission (NAPC), will be replaced by current chief of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) Arthur C. Yap. Yap is returning to the post which he vacated last 2005 after a tax-evasion case was filed against his family.
When asked whether he will accept the post as head of NAPC, Panganiban said he will have to give careful study to the matter as NAPC is a different agency that would give him new responsibilities.
Panganiban joins the list of Agriculture secretaries who have yet to stay on in the department for at least three years since the time of then-President Joseph Estrada.
During the Estrada administration, William V. Dar was appointed agriculture chief from July 1998 to May 1999. Sen. Edgardo J. Angara took over the helm of the DA starting in 1999. With the impeachment case approaching its climax in 2001, Panganiban was appointed on January 8 that year and served for only a month.
He was replaced in February 2001 by Leonardo Montemayor who did not stay long and gave way to Luis P. Lorenzo. Lorenzo held the post of DA chief from December 2002 until August 2004.
Lorenzo was forced to give up his post and resigned in August 2004 after he was accused of various charges ranging from conflict of interest to graft and corruption. He turned over the rein of the DA to Yap that same month.




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