By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The National Food Authority (NFA) will formally transition into new leadership by the end of this month or almost a year after retired army major Jason Aquino resigned from the agency in the middle of a rice crisis.
Tomas Escarez, who served as the acting NFA administrator for many months since Aquino left, has formally turned over to NFA Deputy Administrator Judy Dansal the leadership of the agency.
This, while the agency is in the middle of major restructuring post-tariffication.
Dansal has served as the NFA Deputy Administrator for Marketing Operations, also overseeing the rice importation the agency has conducted for the past several months.
Her appointment came as NFA undergoes a restructuring as part of the passage of Rice Tariffication Law, which liberalized the importation of rice in the country as well as stripped away some functions of the NFA.
From being the regulator of the local rice sector, NFA’s mandate was reduced to making sure the country has enough of the major staple for calamities and emergencies.
The law also banned the agency from importing, leaving it with the only option of buying palay locally produced by Filipino farmers.
As of last week, NFA already submitted its input to the 2019 State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte, through its mother agency the Department of Agriculture, the status of its resturcturing plan, including updates on the initial meeting between the NFA and GCG, as well as NFA’s appeal for consideration of its additional recommendations on the retention of regional offices and co-terminus incumpent positions (CTIs).
“We are moving forward in our Restructuring process. This process of change has opened up opportunities for us to look back at our rich history, contemplate on the present situation, and look forward to how NFA can remain relevant and significant in its new role under a liberalized rice market regime.
Let us continue to provide good service to our countrymen as we transition into a lean and mean public service agency,” Escarez said.
Escarez will now revert back to his position as NFA’s Deputy Administrator.
In his post in the social media, Escarez thanked all the NFA employees for their support and confidence as their “temporary leader for the past several months, battling all odds and problems to keep our beloved agency afloat”.
Escarez took over the leadership at NFA some time in September last year soon after President Rodrigo Duterte announced that Aquino is resigning, leaving behind a crisis that stemmed from the shortfall of cheap and subsidized rice in the local market — a scenario that his agency’s mandate vowed to never happen.