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Gag order, spoiled food at DA

World Food Day without the Agriculture secretary. (Undersecretary Panganiban, middle, and Senator Villar, right). DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE PHOTO

I DO hope that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. realizes that his being an absentee Agriculture secretary is demoralizing the institution’s ranks, and practically suspending any new initiatives there, which is a crucial agency to contain inflation.

“The situation will make the DA inept, and make it prone to corruption,” an insider claimed. “It’s getting seriously dysfunctional here. The department cannot adapt to a president who is also its secretary, and (senior undersecretary) Domingo Panganiban does not know how to manage the situation. The mismanagement and ineptness of the DA now will seriously undermine the agriculture sector and our food security.”

Indeed, Panganiban is getting worried at the situation that he issued, as The Manila Times reported the other day “a gag order prohibiting officials of the agency to grant interviews, issue statements and press releases without his clearance. “You are hereby directed to not accept interviews from the media unless given clearance by the Office of the Secretary,” Panganiban said in his memorandum.

The Agriculture department which Marcos is secretary of is the first agency under his term to suppress the press, on his 111th day in office.

World Food Day, celebrated last Monday, became another instance urging Marcos to vacate the agriculture portfolio. The department was only informed on Friday evening that Marcos would be leading the celebration of it at its premises, so preparations were made in panic.

Can’t attend

However, Malacañang called Sunday to say that sorry, Agriculture secretary Bongbong after all can’t attend the event, which the agency and no other has the mandate to celebrate. Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food was there though, her stature emphasizing the importance of the event, and gave a short speech.

I wonder what event or meeting made Marcos cancel his World Food Day attendance. That would have been his third time to visit the department, the first and second times were in July.

As if to add insult to injury, the fried chicken and vegetables prepared for the celebration turned out to be spoiled, the attendees of course realized it, and so no one ate them. “Even the food was disappointed that the secretary was absent,” one attendee said. “It was all wasted or probably fed to pigs… well, can be good to increase hog production,” another remarked sarcastically. No wonder Panganiban rushed to issue his gag order Wednesday.

Generals condemn judge’s ruling

Three days after the ROTC Alumni Association’s condemnation of the ruling, an unprecedented number of retired generals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines issued a similar statement denouncing Manila Trial Judge Marlo Malagar’s decision that the Communist Party and its New People’s Army are not terrorist organizations.

The concise but eloquent statement, titled “Manifesto of support to Dr. Lorraine Badoy calling the CPP-NPA-NDF a terrorist organization,” reads as follows:

“We, and thousands other retired generals, admirals and officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Coast Guard, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and the Bureau of Fire Protection, declare and strongly affirm our full support to Dr. Lorraine Badoy in calling the CPP-NPA-NDF a terrorist organization.

“We join in her statement in calling the decision of Judge Malagar a legal misprision and distortion of the realities on the ground. Judge Malagar’s heavy citation of the CPP-NPA-NDF’s constitution to defend her anomalous decision whitewashes 53 years of violence and terror inflicted on the Filipino people. Judge Malagar’s invocation of leniency for all the killings and murders committed by this terrorist organization is an insult to the cry for justice of all the victims of the CPP-NPA-NDF. Calling these violence and murders merely the ‘means’ to the CPP-NPA-NDF’s purpose of overthrowing our constitutional government is her indictment to perdition of our own Republic.

“We have fought this enemy for decades and many among our ranks paid the ultimate sacrifice. No one knows this enemy more than us. And no one desires peace and the end of this violence more than we do. We cannot attain this peace by mere assumption that the silence of guns in the battlefield is a moment of peace. To silence the voices of peace crusaders such as Dr. Lorraine Badoy, MD is a threat to our democracy, our way of life. Here, we add our voices for her message to ring louder and clearer, the CPP-NPA-NDF is a terrorist organization and a threat to our national security; to the Filipino people, we say this without a shadow of doubt.”

First time

The statement was signed by generals from past administrations, including President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin and President Duterte’s national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. While the manifesto so far has 118 signatories, Esperon said there will be many more, as its organizers are still in the process of contacting other generals.

This is the first time ever that such a big number of current and retired generals have signed a manifesto calling on the government to adopt a political stance, which is to treat the CPP-NPA as terrorist organization, which the state is therefore duty bound to crush.

President Marcos should listen to the generals, who emphasized “we have fought this enemy for decades and many among our ranks paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

It is not clear if Marcos has abandoned President Duterte’s iron-fist approach to the insurgency, which had so seriously weakened the CPP-NPA that it has been unable to even convene its central committee to elect a chairman. For over a year now, the CPP appears to be headless, without an announcement of a new chairman.

Most analysts though have concluded that Marcos with his sheer silence on the issue of the insurgency and appointment as his national security adviser the retired academic Clarita Carlos, he prefers a less confrontational stance against the CPP-NPA and a new attempt at peace talks. Secretary Carlos indeed has abandoned a major project of her predecessor, which involved the mobilization of former CPP-NPA cadres to expose the Reds’ atrocities and their recruitment schemes. These ex-cadres have been left out in the cold, leaving them vulnerable to retaliation from the communist terrorists.

The generals’ manifesto is in effect an appeal to Marcos, in the strongest possible terms, that he has to end the insurgency by force, and not to resort to past administrations’ useless peace talks with the communists that only gave them the breathing space to strengthen their organization.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Dorina Rojas

    It was really a big surprise, very disappointing really, that the DA Secretary did not attend the World Food Day celebrations. A big majority of DA employees were really demoralized having used to celebrate the occasion led by their Sec for the past years. Not only the insurgency problem, but also the anti-illegal drug war, seem to be taking the back seat and many of us feel worried about it. For the past couple of months, my family, friends and I have started learning self-dense lessons, strengthening our homes against suspected offenders and keeping close coordination with barangay and police officers. PBBM may have been the popular choice, but I really miss PDU30 on these things.

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