In a ceremony held on August 23, 2016 at the office of the Agriculture Secretary, Sarah Gutierrez-Cayona took her oath as the newly appointed Deputy Executive Director (DED) of the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF).

On September 22, 2016, Cayona was designated by Secretary Emmanuel Piñol as the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the agency.

Cayona’s appointment as PCAF’s DED was signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte through the recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture.

In an interview, OIC Cayona said that she’ll continue PCAF’s thrust and directions.

She will strengthen the provision of the technical and financial assistance to the Agriculture and Fishery Councils (AFCs) and the National Sectoral Committees and Strategic Concerns Committees (NSCs).

Transparency is one of the pillars of participatory governance that the agency espouses. Hence, she also aspires for greater transparency in the DA programs through the Advisory Special Bodies’ (ASBs) participation in planning, budgeting, monitoring and tracking and in policy making.

Her thrust also focused on strengthening partnership coordination and linkages between and among DA and its bureaus and attached agencies, local government units (LGUs), and private organizations relative to PCAF’s core mandates.

“We will maintain strong ties with the LGUs to serve as our co-partners in our undertakings and in sustaining our AFCs and NSCs operations,” she said.

OIC Cayona firmly said that the agency will intensify its linkages with DA and its bureaus and attached agencies by involving them more in consultations.

She also stated that one of her priorities is to sustain an incentive-based award system for the ASBs officers and members through the annual awards for outstanding AFCs and NSCs officers and coordinators, and in the Gawad Saka Awards for outstanding Regional, Provincial, and Municipal AFCs.

“We will continue and intensify the involvement with our AFCs and NSCs in the monitoring of DA and its attached agencies’ projects and programs to provide the “check and balance” in the status of these projects,” she added.

As the interim head of the agency, OIC Cayona said that PCAF should align its program and activities with what Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol envisions for the Philippine agriculture.

OIC Cayona assured that the issues and needs of the farmers/fishefolks and the private sectors will be heard and acted upon.

She also appealed for their cooperation and support to ensure that PCAF’s tasks are achieved effectively and efficiently.

“This will only happen if AFCs and NSCs will continue to work with us as one collective unit in building a strong foundation for the agri-fishery sector for our country,” she said.

Brief background

A daughter of a farmer and a teacher, OIC Cayona was born and raised in Takepan, Pikit, Cotabato. She graduated from Takepan High School in 1981 and from Notre Dame University with a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy in 1990. After receiving her education, OIC Cayona packed up and worked in Singapore.

In 1994, she was employed as a Secretary in Shinsung Corporation, a contractor of National Irrigation Administration-Malitubog-Maridagao Irrigation Project. Same year, OIC Cayona came back to her Alma mater, Notre Dame University, and worked as an Account Receivable Clerk for almost 2 years. In 1996, she served the Provincial Accountant’s office in North Cotabato as Accounting Clerk I and then assigned as Management Audit and Analyst II in Provincial Governor’s office (PGO) in 1998.

OIC Cayona devoted more than half of her life to the government for the past twenty years in the PGO Internal Control Division.