Agri chief starts major revamp
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has ordered the dismissal of Vivencio Mamaril as director of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) after issues of smuggling continued to persist in the agency.
Along with Mamaril, nine officials from the National Plant Quarantine Service will also be relieved effective Aug. 1. These are NPQS chief Ariel Bayot-NPQS chief; division chief Joselito Antioquia-division chief; NICP head Jesusa Ascutia; inspector Joseph Banasihan; Cebu port quarantine head Rizalina Cahiles; supervising chief Mina Lanto; Andrelina Araños of the support staff, and Leo Pangilinan and Jonah Manalo of the registration section.
“This is the outcome of the recent controversy involving inaccurate listing of importers and the suspicions of connivance between some NPQS officials and importers. They cannot succeed in smuggling. I have to crack the whip,” Piñol warned.
The secretary’s decision comes after a cartel was pointed to have caused the recent spike in garlic prices and smuggled garlic and onions were seized by the Bureau of Customs at the Manila International Container Port.
Piñol said that the recent discovery of Chinese carrots in Tanauan, Batangas, despite the absence of import permits, was the “last straw” for him.
Piñol added that there would be a “major shakeup in other [DA] offices.” He hinted that there might be other employees to be sacked from the agency’s procurement central office, agricultural training institute and the Bureau of Animal Industry.
“I expect a total revamp. This is just the start,” he said.
However, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura chair Rosendo Go said the dismissal and movement of employees in the DA would not really solve the problem of cartel and smuggling in the country.
“Sacking employees has been done before. We want to see cases filed to the people who are responsible,” said Go.
Mamaril will be moved to the Bureau of Agriculture Fisheries and Products Standards, his former agency. He will also remain as the head of the Philippine Agriculture and Fisheries biotechnology program.
When asked for the reason of the movement, Piñol said he liked to assign people “where they are effective.”
Mamaril, who served as BPI’s director for a year, said he was actually relieved and thankful of the secretary’s decision, adding that he was only being protected by Piñol from anymore accusations.
He said he felt so ashamed because he had lost the people’s respect following the reports of corruption in the agency.
The director will be replaced by assistant regional director George Culaste from Davao City, a graduate of animal husbandry in the Ateneo de Davao. He was also a former barangay chair in Davao.
“Matino ito, bata ito ni President Duterte,” Piñol said of Culaste.
Culaste will bring five people with him during his transfer to BPI. His first directive is to review the whole system of the agency and clean its ranks.
Piñol was quick to defend Mamaril, saying the director was not involved in any form of corruption. He described the director as “a gentle spirit, incapable of hurting a fly.”
“It is an issue of being familiar with the people he’s been working with. He is faced with people who are veterans in this kind of operation. I don’t think he will be able to really crack the whip,” Piñol explained.
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