Government exec proposes creation of department on rural development

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Agrarian Reform Undersecretary for Support Services Jerry “Jing” Pacturan has proposed the creation of the Department of Rural Development (DARD) to be composed of the Agriculture, Agrarian Reform and Environment departments.

Speaking before a gathering of leaders of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), People’s Organizations (POs), local government units (LGUs) and the private sector at the session hall of the Provincial Board inside the Provincial Capitol building, Pacturan said that it is now high time for creation of the DARD to push forward the Aquino administration’s rural development program.

“This is very important because we are the only country in Southeast Asia that doesn’t have a Department of Rural Development,” said.

Pacturan is a former leader of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Cagayan de Oro City before joining the Aquino administration. He was one of the leader of the “yellow army” who campaigned for Aquino during the presidential elections.

He said the problem with government’s  rural development program is that it is so “fragmented” which is the reason why the countryside hardly progressed.

He said that continuing with the present set-up of having three rural development agencies responsible for countryside development—DA, DAR and DENR—will be just a waste of the efforts in pushing for the social equity program of the Aquino administration.

“It will also not make Philippine agriculture competitive,” he stressed.

“At the end of the day, the farmers are the losers. And essentially, these three rural development agencies have only one set of constituency—the rural poor,” he added.

Bringing the perspective of an NGO mindset into DAR, Pacturan is personally pushing for the creation of the DARD as this was the cry of various non-government organizations, people’s organizations, CSOs and the private sector.

And he is very thankful that all three secretaries of the DA, DAR and DENR are “friends” and “barkadas” who see the wisdom of his proposal.

This is because “we see the work of DAR as being part of DA in the long run. And maybe the adjudication part of DAR can go into DENR because essentially that’s the work of DENR naman,” he said.

He admitted that the creation of the DARD will overhaul everything but the Aquino administration is willing to undertake this overhauling process with the help of the World Bank, which will assist the government in undertaking the technical aspects of this “overhauling” process.

“At the end of the day, we are not only talking of agriculture but really of rural development. And that mindset, that framework has not been in our horizon in the last 30 or 40 years. Not to mention that our perspective in agriculture is something to be overhauled,” he said. Bong Fabe

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