MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is being careful in choosing the next secretary who will lead the Department of Agriculture (DA), Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said Thursday.
In an interview with journalist Anthony Taberna, Bersamin said Marcos is aware that he needs to appoint a “regular” DA secretary, given the issues besetting the agriculture sector.
“Eto kasing pagpipili ng sekretaryo, siguro tinatantya niya (Marcos) sino ang dapat dahil ang agriculture portfolio napakaraming issues diyan (Perhaps, he is estimating who should be picked as secretary because the agriculture portfolio has so many issues),” he said.
Bersamin said he is not privy to Marcos’ preferred successor, but stressed that there could be a shortlist of candidates for the DA post.
He also believed that Marcos was “on the way” to making a decision with regard to choosing the new agriculture secretary.
“Matagal na iyang iniisip niya iyan (He has been thinking about that for a time),” Bersamin said. “Meron ding nagsasabi na panahon nang ibigay niya sa iba at mag-concentrate na lang siya sa mga ibang pangangailangan ng bayan (Some also say it is time for him to give it to others and concentrate on other needs of the people).”
Bersamin, however, said Marcos is also considering the advice for him to stay as DA chief.
He said there are “many” people who want Marcos to continue leading the DA because only the president could solve the issues plaguing the agriculture industry.
“Sa dami ng problema diyan sa agrikultura kailangan talagang presidente ang humawak dun sa ngayon sa kalagitnaan ng mga issue na ito. Kailangan mas malaking authority kagaya niya (Considering the problems in agriculture, the President really needs to handle it right now in the middle of these issues. There needs to be a bigger authority like him),” Bersamin said.
“Sa aking tingin, mas matimbang ‘yung mga nagsasabi sa kanya na (In my opinion, there are more of people telling him that) he should still be there,” he added.
In a media interview in June, Marcos said he would give up his concurrent position as the head of the DA only after completely addressing the pressing issues hounding the agriculture sector.
Marcos also bared in March that he prefers to appoint a successor who is an expert in the field of agriculture.
Serving the president
Meantime, Bersamin squashed rumors that someone would replace him as Executive Secretary.
“For as long as the President needs me, I will be around,” he said. “That was what I told the President. ‘I will serve you for as long as I am useful to you and for as long as you need me.’”
Bersamin was appointed Executive Secretary in September last year after the resignation of his predecessor, Victor Rodriguez.
Before being appointed Executive Secretary, Bersamin served as chairperson of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) under the leadership of Marcos’ predecessor, former president Rodrigo Duterte.
He was named the country's top magistrate in November 2018 and retired from the judiciary in October 2019. (PNA)