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Piñol is Du30’s right choice

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol’s stand in favor of farmers in the rice importation issue, makes him really the right man for the right job.

The conflict in the issue between the clashing interest of farmers and rice importers bares a most basic paradigm – an old class conflict between profit and public interest.

For his pro-farmers stand, most of those in the community press recognize and commend Secretary Piñol. It will not be a surprise if high rolling rice cartel barons unleash their PR arsenals against the Secretary and hit him with everything, including the proverbial toilet bowl.

Pinol’s bold ambition is to make the Philippines self-sufficient in rice. It is unfortunate that while we pride ourselves as an agricultural hub, our farmers have remained largely neglected.

The reported R211 billion NFA debt merely reflects the consequence of previous administrations’ partiality for private business interests that must be corrected.

I could not imagine past administrations spending even half of that NFA debt as direct subsidy to the plight of our food security workers. Indeed, nobody among our previous Secretaries of Agriculture have been gifted with basic Solomonic wisdom. Now we seem to have found it in Piñol.

Now under the Duterte regime, two cabinet secretaries stand out for their pro-Filipino convictions – DENR Sec. Gina Lopez who is determined to protect our country’s environmental well-being, and Sec. Piñol seems bent on making history by pushing forward to make the Philippines a true rice-exporting country.

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FREE TUITION IN SUCs. When classes open next June, college students in state universities and colleges (SUCs) will no longer have to pay their tuition fees.

This piece of good news, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda shares, is only “a foretaste of more exciting benefits coming when the Universal Access to Tertiary Education Act of 2017 (HB 7221) he principally authored becomes a law. He was the “noisiest campaigner” during the hearings of the Free SUCs tuition measure last year.

Salceda said the real game changer with lasting effects on the country’s growth is HB 7221 which will give wider benefits for students in SUCs. The benefits will also be accessible to students enrolled in technical vocational institutions run by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

The House Committee on Higher and Technical Education has already approved HB 7221 last March, after two other bills were consolidated with it. (Johnny Dayang)