By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (PNA photo by Alfred Frias)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is exhausting all efforts to give Filipinos a comfortable life, an official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said Tuesday.

In a Palace briefing, DA – Bureau of Plant Industry Director Gerald Glenn Panganiban vouched for Marcos’ competence, even after the President suffered a double-digit drop in his approval and trust scores based on the latest survey conducted by independent polling firm Pulse Asia.

The Pulse Asia poll, conducted from Sept. 10 to 15, showed that Marcos’ approval and trust ratings decreased by 14 percentage points from 85 percent to 71 percent, and 15 percentage points from 80 percent to 65 percent, respectively.

The survey was conducted amid the implementation of Executive Order (EO) 39, which imposes a price ceiling of PHP41 per kg. on regular milled rice and PHP45 per kg. on well-milled rice.

Asked if he thinks the implementation of EO 39 has affected the results of the Pulse Asia survey, Panganiban said, “I cannot comment on that one. Ang akin lang, ang masasabi ko diyan, ang ating Pangulo (My take on that is the President) is really committed to serving all. I think he is the President for all, not only for the farmers but also for the consumers.”

“As for the (approval and) satisfaction ratings, I think makikita naman natin at nararamdaman iyan ng mga tao (we can see that and the public can feel that), I think he’s the first president who’s really going to the grounds, meeting with the people. Even sa distribution nga ng bigas, nandoon siya (He is even present during the distribution of rice),” he added.

Panganiban expressed hope that more Filipinos would be aware of Marcos’ plans for the country, as well as the programs his administration is implementing.

He added that the government would continue to provide assistance to those affected by the implementation of the mandated rice price ceilings.

His assurance came as he bared that the government is ready to lift the implementation of EO 39 on the rice price cap.

“So, again, ang ating Pangulo, laging (The President always has) support for local production, support for our consumers. So, I think, tuluy-tuloy lang ang magiging assistance natin (the assistance will continue),” Panganiban said.

‘Doing a great job’

Panganiban also said Marcos, who concurrently serves as head of the DA, is doing everything to improve the agriculture sector.

“‘Yung mga problem natin sa Department of Agriculture ay talaga pong hinaharap ng ating Pangulo (The President is really addressing the problems that we have in the Department of Agriculture). I think that’s the difference from his predecessors. And him being in the helm, nandiyan lahat. Nai-integrate lahat ng efforts ng government (All is there. All the efforts of the government are integrated),” he said.

Panganiban also lauded Marcos’ leadership style, saying it helps all government agencies to collaborate to achieve food security in the country.

“Ang food security, hindi lang trabaho ng isang ahensya lang (Attaining food security is not just the job of one agency) but all of us. But with the President there, with the support we’re receiving from the Department of Agriculture, I think he’s doing a great job,” he said.

Panganiban noted that it is the “first time” that a president “has opened the gates for export.”

“Ngayon, nakakapag-export na tayo ng (Now, we are able to export) high-value crops like durian at the start of the quarter of this year; mangoes again, we opened a significant market for Australia; and ito lang, (just) last weekend itong (the) avocado,” he said.

Panganiban expressed hope that Marcos would stay as DA chief because he is “doing a great job.”

Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin earlier said Marcos was being careful in choosing the next DA secretary. (PNA)