President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (File photo) 

MANILA – While admitting that it will take some time before he lets go of being Department of Agriculture (DA) chief, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday said his list of candidates to replace him “keeps changing.”

“Well, the list keeps changing. May nawawala, may nadadagdag. May nawawala, may nadadagdag (Someone gets removed, some get added),” he told reporters in an interview after his meeting with officials of the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, Laguna.

Marcos maintained that he has a “timetable” for when he would name a new DA Secretary, which will be based on after he has completed his “to-do” list.

“I have a timetable for that. There are certain things I like to achieve before leaving the department so hindi pa tayo nandun (we haven’t reached that point yet),” he said.

The President said he is still in the process of reviewing the list of candidates for DA chief but expressed hope he would name a nominee when all boxes on the checklist are ticked.

“Of course, maraming lumalabas na pangalan. Tuloy-tuloy ang pagtingin namin. So hopefully by the time na yung checklist ko natapos na, mayroon na tayong puwedeng i-nominate na DA (Of course, many names are emerging and we continue to review them. So hopefully by the time the checklist is done, we already have someone to nominate as DA chief),” he added.

Last month, Marcos said he continues to head the DA because he is still “needed” there.

"There are things that a President can do that a secretary cannot, especially because precisely the reason that you gave,” he said in a media interview on October 20.

He also said there are problems in the agriculture sector that are “so difficult that it will take a president to change and turn it around.”

Marcos said DA officials are supportive of his decision to remain as DA chief, adding that issues hounding the agriculture sector are "deeply embedded."

"The reason that I stay on up to now, I have actually raised the subject with some of the staff and the employees and the secretaries in the DA, and they asked me not to," he said.

"Very deeply embedded ang mga problema natin sa agrikultura. Ito ay nangyari sa nakaraang napakaraming taon. Kaya’t hindi ganoon kabilis, hindi ganoon kadali na ibalik sa ating magandang sistema dati. Kaya’t (Our problems in agriculture are very deeply embedded. It has been happening for the past years. That’s why it’s not easy to bring it back to the system like before. That’s why) I think I am still needed there.”

In June, Marcos announced that he has decided to temporarily head the DA to urgently address the looming food crisis in the country.

He said heading the DA himself would show that the government prioritizes agriculture and allow measures to be carried out more quickly. (PNA)