Former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez presents the “I LOVE” project to PCAF’s ASBs during the National Volunteers’ Day in Iloilo City.

The Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) joined the country in the observance of the National Volunteer Month as it celebrated and acknowledged the value of participation and volunteerism committed by its Advisory Special Bodies (ASBs) through the third National Volunteers’ Day Celebration on December 6, 2017 in Iloilo City.

The celebration also highlighted the awarding of the winners of the Search for Outstanding Agricultural and Fishery Council (AFC) Chairpersons and Secretariat-Coordinators.

The Search provides recognition to deserving AFC chairpersons and coordinators who have rendered exemplary contributions and services.

More than 300 guests from the ASB’s National Agriculture and Fisheries Council (NAF Council), National Sectoral and Strategic Concerns Committees (NSSCCs), and AFCs, along with the Department of Agriculture and PCAF employees gathered in the Province of Festivals.

“Just like our celebration’s theme “Volunteers, shining through the years”, our ASBs shine because of their dedication to participate, share knowledge and skills, and most importantly they radiate because of their desire to uplift the lives of our farmers and fisherfolks,” PCAF Executive Director Sarah Gutierrez-Cayona, said in her speech.

On the other hand, Former Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary and environmentalist Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez graced the event and talked about her project called “I LOVE” or Investments in Loving Organization for Village Economies.

“I came (to see you) because I believe that agriculture is a key and non-negotiable way for our country’s growth, and I think, the foundation of a genuine economic growth is love. It is not the money that makes the difference, it is the heart. When you care, when you feel the pain of others, that’s the key of making a difference,” Lopez said while emphasizing the value of volunteerism with a heart. 

Honoring the minds and hands of volunteerism

The event also celebrated the notable accomplishments of the Outstanding AFC Chairpersons and Secretariat-Coordinators. The Search was conducted nationwide covering all incumbent chairpersons and secretariat-coordinators of the regional AFC (RAFC), provincial AFC (PAFC)/ Highly Urbanized City AFC (HUCAFC)/ Independent Component City AFC (ICCAFCs) and the nominated Municipal AFC (MAFC)/ City AFC (CAFC).

The criteria include performance and impact, leadership, creativity, innovativeness, resourcefulness, and commitment to the agri-fishery sector. An interview also added points to the total score. The nominees should have rendered at least three years of service as chairperson and at least five years for the secretariat-coordinator.

For this year’s Outstanding RAFC Chairperson, Dionisio Bautista from Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat of Soccsksargen bagged the award. Chairperson Bautista, through the Sectoral Resolution number 6, series of 2016, spearheaded the creation of a unit or section responsible for the preparation and packaging of farmers and fisherfolks project proposals, known as ALAMM or the Alalay sa Magsasaka at Mangingisda.

William Valdez of Angeles in Pampanga, Central Luzon Region brought home the Outstanding RAFC Secretariat-Coordinator award. Through his monitoring and technical guidance, Central Luzon was able to produce Gawad Saka winners, such as 2015 Outstanding City Agricultural and Fishery Council (CAFC Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija), 2015 Gawad Saka National Winner for the Agri-Entrepreneur (DVF Farm, Nueva Ecija), and 2016 Gawad Saka National Winner for the Barangay Food Terminal (Brgy. Tuyo, Balanga City, Bataan).

Valdez also guided and empowered the AFCs to resolve their own issues and problems by allowing them to choose the best solution.

Outstanding PAFC Chairperson was awarded to Bebito Matuguinas of Naval, Biliran of Eastern Visayas Region. He led the request to Biliran Representative Rogelio Espina for the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation group life insurance of 160 MAFC and PAFC members at PhP375 per person with a total of 60 thousand pesos.

Chairperson Matuguinas also spearheaded the conduct of sea patrol operations to eliminate illegal fishing in Kawayan and neighboring sea waters.  In relation to that, he spearheaded the passing of a policy resolution, in coordination with BFAR to conduct regular monitoring and impose penalties on illegal fishing operations within the waters of Biliran province.

Mercidita Quiamco of Mati, Davao Oriental of Davao Region earned the Outstanding PAFC Secretariat-Coordinator.

During her term as coordinator, PAFC Davao Oriental was declared as the Gawad Saka Outstanding PAFC in the Region from 2010, 2012 and 2015. The council was also one of the national finalists for the said search.

Part of her accomplishments was her initiative in the establishment, institutionalization, and strengthening the Agrikulturang Makamasa Barangay Extension Technician (AMBET) in the province to assist farmers and fisherfolk in the delivery of agricultural service, in partnership with the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist.

The Outstanding MAFC Chairperson was awarded to Stephen Divinagracia of Tampakan, South Cotabato in Soccsksargen.

He has been instrumental in the Technical Reinforcement Training concerning pest and disease infestation, risk management caused by Climate Change which involved farmers and other stakeholders in the community. He was also involved in the Memorandum of Agreement between Tampakan and partner line-agencies that provided logistics such as food, speakers and transportation.

Louisa Carbonel of Bakun, Benguet in the Cordillera Autonomous Region brought home the Outstanding MAFC Secretariat-Coordinator.

She assisted the MAFC Bakun members in requesting farm equipment and facilities from DA, as she is also a focal person for High Value Crops Development Program and Good Agricultural Practices. She also crafted project proposals for acquisition of green houses, seed storage and other farm equipment whose beneficiaries of this project are the MAFC farmer-members.

A Special Citation was awarded to Alfredo Oben of Polangui, Albay in Bicol Region for his 30 years of steadfast PAFC leadership and dedicated leadership, including dialogues with the local chief executives which brought additional funding to the AFCs especially to the conduct of meeting of the non-targeted MAFCs.

The six winners received a plaque and cash prize worth 60 thousand pesos, while PAFC Chairperson Alfredo Oben received a Special Citation award and 30 thousand pesos aside from the plaque.- JC