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Pres. Marcos affirms partnership with private sector to improve business sector, affirmed for leadership of Agri portfolio

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY- Organizers of the forthcoming Mindanao Food Congress received encouraging news from the President ahead of the tri-event to be hosted by the city on October 26-30 at the Limketkai Center.

Besides the three-day Mindanao Food Congress to be held at the Limketkai Luxe Hotel, the tri-event also features the Oro BEST Expo 2022 and the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) sa Amihanang Mindanao to be hosted by the Dept. of Science and Technology Region X at the Limketkai Atrium.

β€œWe recognize the fact that our businesses cannot thrive alone. Thus, it is my commitment to foster a sound environment where businesses can flourish and continue to be a driver of our economic growth,” President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said during the closing rites of the 48 th Philippine Business Conference and Exposition at the Manila Hotel organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).

The 48th Philippine Business Conference and Exposition (PBCE), organized by the PCCI, seeks to jumpstart dialogue on key policy measures and programs concerning business and the economy that are vital in navigating the Philippines toward full recovery and growth.

During the event, conference chairperson Ferdinand Ferrer submitted 10 conference resolutions to the President which β€œreflect the private sector’s commitment to provide meaningful solutions to priority pressing issues and concerns that will help us deal with the significant challenges and opportunities in the years ahead.”

β€œThese resolutions will help us achieve food security; move towards a science-based and transparent health system; support new investments and generate more employment; establish and maintain qualification standards in all levels of our educational system; deepen cooperation and expand participation in the international fronts; implement a nation-wide reliable and competitive digitalization program; address climate change; assure reliable and affordable power supply to sustain the economy; provide world-class integrated transport systems, and minimize barriers to the free flow of goods and services,” Ferrer stressed.

The PBCE was attended by Oro Chamber executives headed by PCCI Region X Governor and Mindanao Food Congress Director Ruben A. Vegafria and President Raymundo Talimio, Jr., along with PCCI- affiliate chambers of commerce from Mindanao led by Area Vice President Art B. Milan.

The President later met with his Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) to tackle the Philippines’ agricultural priorities in the next 6 years, and β€œreceived recommendations from the PSAC on digital farming methods and supply chain improvement strategies to ensure food security,” the Office of the Press Secretary said in a statement.

The PSAC also proposed the review of the policies and structure of the National Food Authority (NFA) to enable the agency to operate as a logistics hub and reduce losses for the government.

The President mentioned a plan to institutionalize the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) digital platform Sarai to empower agricultural stakeholders with site-specific crop advisories based on data gathered from the Diwata micro-satellite. 

β€œThrough the DOST program, farmers and fishermen will be able to access real-time and updated information on farm conditions, including weather outlook, drought and flooding forecasting, disease detection and infestation,” the OPS said.

The President also ordered the accelerated replanting of coconut trees, distribution of seedlings, and intercropping for better land use to improve coconut farmers’ incomes; a review on the Act for Salt Iodization Nationwide (ASIN) law to revive salt farming as an additional livelihood for the fisherfolk to augment their income. 

Food security is a key program of the current administration, with the President saying during the campaign that it would be possible to reduce the price of rice to P20 per kilo.

Meantime, the President has received high marks for his handling of the Department of Agriculture (DA), a recent PUBLiCUS Asia survey shows.

PUBLiCUS Asia’s Pahayag 2022 Quarterly Survey shows 63 percent of respondents agree with the President’s move to take the agriculture portfolio.

Fifteen percent of Filipinos disagreed with the President’s decision, while 22 percent were undecided.

The survey was conducted on Sept. 16-20, 2022, with a base of 1,500 adult respondents.

In an interview with reporters on Thursday, Marcos stood firm in his decision to stay as DA chief amid critics’ calls to appoint a full-time secretary to head the department.

He said other DA officials agree with his decision, adding that he was willing to step down if he was no longer needed.

Marcos earlier said that he would only step down as head of the Department of Agriculture once the agency’s β€œfunctions are properly institutionalized and the structural changes that we need to make in the DA have been made.”

β€œWhen we are able to say that the DA’s functions are properly institutionalized, and the structural changes that we need to make in the DA have been made, and the appointments in the DA have already been made, then saka ako bibitaw (that’s when I’ll step down). Because then, they don’t need me anymore, they don’t need the President heading the department,” he added.

Because the problems of the DA were β€œvery deeply embedded”, Marcos said his role as president is necessary to β€œchange and turn it around.”

Last June, Marcos announced that he will head the DA to show Filipinos that he puts β€œhigh priority” on the agriculture sector.

As DA chief, he vowed to prioritize increasing rice production and re-organizing the agriculture department. (PNA)

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