The Commission of Appointments has confirmed the ad interim appointment of Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel Jr. as Secretary of Agriculture on December 5. 

During his presentation to the CA, Sec. Laurel emphasized his vision for a modernized Philippine agriculture.  

“Feeding 118 million Filipinos is a daunting yet ‘achievable goal’ with a whole-of-nation approach to the modernization of the long-neglected agriculture sector,” he said. 

After deliberations, the CA plenary unanimously approved his interim appointment. 

Laurel was appointed on November 3 by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. as secretary of the Department of Agriculture, a portfolio that the president held for over a year to underscore the sector’s importance in ensuring food security and job creation since it employs one in every four working Filipinos.

“I am now 56 and I’ve been called to serve the country—to lead it out of high food prices; low food production; broken food supply chains; lack of irrigation, cold storage, credit, and other key inputs; and aging farmers and fisherfolk. Add climate change and geopolitical disruptions to this mix, and the task of feeding 118 million Filipinos becomes even more daunting,” Laurel told the CA’s Committee on Agriculture chaired by Bataan Rep. Albert Garcia.

“But I view these problems as a challenge. And I shall apply my knowledge and experience in building a diversified global company to this achievable goal. I shall apply these lessons to serve our larger family of the Filipino people,” the agri chief added.

Laurel was just 28 when he took over the reins of Frabelle, a deep-sea fishing company established by his parents. 

He joined the family business at age 19, spending months at sea as he joined Frabelle’s fishing expeditions. Conferences and seminars overseas that his father sent him to in order to continue his education gave Laurel valuable lessons that he used to grow Frabelle into a diversified conglomerate with interests in food manufacturing, deep-sea fishing, property development, shipyard operation, aquaculture, cold storage chain, and renewable power.

“Natutunan ko na dapat ring humingi ng tulong. Humility and faith in fellow journeymen take disipline. Because we cannot do it alone, I abide by the oft-repeated whole-of-country and whole-of-society approach. The boat will get nowhere if we paddle in different directions,” he said.

Laurel said the DA under his watch will rely on science and market data to ensure timely interventions to modernize agriculture to realize food security and sufficiency, as well as sustainability.

“As  former chairman of the World Tuna Purse Seine Organization, I have seen firsthand the dire consequences of setting aside the issue of sustainability. Yet, sustainability encompasses every aspect of human existence, and thus needs the collective understanding, commitment, and action of every sector of society now and every day,” he said.

Laurel said he treats all facets of agriculture as equally important not just the production of rice—the national food staple. He said there is vast potential in fisheries, livestock, poultry, and high-value crops. 

The agriculture chief said making investments and a career in agriculture profitable is essential to attract the next generation of farmers and fishermen, avoiding a food crisis in the coming decades. 

“My vision for agriculture is to make it sustainable, profitable and appealing to the younger generation,” he added. ###