AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People warns that President Bongbong Marcos’ refusal to appoint a full-time Secretary for the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Health means more hardship for the Filipino people as the two agencies have crucial mandates in ensuring food security and self-sufficiency   as well as  the improvement of health amidst the rising cases of emerging diseases such as COVID-19.

“We see that under the helm of President Marcos, public health services worsened and COVID infections are still spreading. People still experience soaring prices of food, unhampered importation of agricultural products, and widespread bankruptcy of small businesses and farmers,” said Jonallin Yang, AGHAM Secretary General.

“Marcos Jr.’s refusal to appoint full-time secretaries for DOH and DA only shows that his priorities lie elsewhere,” added Yang. “Instead of prioritizing the issues related to health and agriculture, Marcos Jr. is indulging himself by attending weekly parties and racing events  abroad. Appointing Department secretaries also seems more of a political payback and patronage. ”

“Since the President assumed the position of the DA Secretary, he was not able to improve the state of the local production,” lamented Yang. “The promise of lowering the price of a kilo of rice to twenty pesos is a sham with the passage of the Rice Liberalization Law, which has not significantly contributed to increasing the productivity of farmers. Based on the computation of AGHAM, it is way too impossible to achieve such promise [1].   Meanwhile, fisherfolk are also experiencing economic losses due to skyrocketing fuel prices. With the decline of fish catch, several fisherfolk are starting to seek alternative livelihoods.”

Yang also warned about the new COVID variant. “Recently, the DOH detected the omicron XBB subvariant in the country,” she said. “This should compel the government to become serious in its programs to address this new subvariant. We need a DOH Secretary to lead programs in addressing COVID and other emerging diseases.”

AGHAM calls on the Marcos administration to treat the issues related to health and food security with utmost urgency. The Marcos government should immediately lower the prices of food commodities, stop the importation of agricultural products, subsidize small farmers and business, and increase the budget of our health institutions. Removing himself as a secretary of DA and DOH is a step in the right direction. We do not need an inefficient and incapable executive in these departments.” Yang ended. ###

[1] AGHAM’s press release dated June 23, 2022 entitled, BBM is detached from the reality of our local agriculture to assume the position of DA Secretary.


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