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No agri in SONA? Piñol says Duterte’s style not to go into details

SONA. After agriculture was barely mentioned in the 2nd State of the Nation Address, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol says it is President Rodrigo Duterte’s style not to go into details. File photo by Toto Lozano/Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines – Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Tuesday, July 25, insisted that President Rodrigo Duterte actually talked about agriculture in his 2nd State of the Nation Address (SONA) but it’s his style not to go into details.

"After the SONA, questions were directed at me asking why there was nary a mention of agriculture in the SONA of the President, and I had to explain to them that President Duterte as a leader actually is not a details man," Piñol told reporters during a press briefing on Tuesday.

He added: "He doesn’t go into details. In fact, in many instances in the past, when I presented to him details of plans and programs, he would always say ‘Ikaw na bahala sa detalye’ (You take care of the details). So ganoon ‘yung (So that’s the) Duterte style."

But Piñol said agriculture was mentioned during the early part of the SONA, when the President was talking about the environment and the need to prepare for climate change.

"Did he take into account subjects and topics related to agriculture? Yes. In fact when he praised Ted Failon for his advocacy on the ill effects of mining on agriculture, he actually talked about agriculture and the need to protect the environment to ensure sustainable agriculture," the agriculture secretary said.

The President went off-script on Monday, July 24, as he lashed out at mining companies whose operations affect communities and the environment.

"You see the palayan… Ang palayan tumuyo at ang soil nag-crack. So the farmers cannot eat anymore. They are reduced to the garbage of what you can get there, salvage anything and sell it. Ganun ang nangyari sa Pilipino," he said.

(You see the rice fields… The rice fields went dry and the soil cracked. So the farmers cannot eat anymore. They are reduced to the garbage of what you can get there, salvage anything, and sell it. That’s what happened to the Filipino.)

Unlike this year’s SONA, Duterte bared specific measures to boost the country’s agricultural productivity during his 1st SONA in 2016.

But this year, Duterte appealed to legislators to immediately pass the National Land Use Act "to ensure the rational and sustainable use of our land and our physical resources, given the competing needs of food security, housing, businesses and environmental conservation." –