MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has called on the country’s agricultural journalists to work together with the government in maintaining the momentum towards a brighter and greener future” for every Filipino.”
The President made the call in a message to the Philippine Agricultural Journalists Inc. on the occasion of its presentation of winners of the 2018 PAJ-San Miguel Corporation Binhi Awards for excellence in agricultural and environmental journalism and induction of its officers and directors on March 28, 2019 at the Makati Diamond Residences in Makati City.
Duterte recognized how PAJ, founded in 1976, has “over the years been advocating for sustainable agriculture and countryside development through balanced reporting on agro-based industries.”
The PAJ members, according to Mr. Duterte, have raised public awareness, “ensuring that our farmers, fisherfolk and other stakeholders in this sector are given a voice and are empowered to participate in the national discourse.”
“Excellent journalism promotes nation-building through your stories,” Duterte told the PAJ officers and members.
Duterte congratulated the PAJ and the SMC for jointly holding the annual Binhi Awards contest for excellence in agricultural and environmental journalism.
“Let this milestone inspire you to remain steadfast in upholding the integrity of our natural and agricultural resources through informative news and insightful commentary,” the President said.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Pinol, who was the event’s guest of honor and speaker, led the presentation of some 30 awards together with PAJ president Alfredo G. Gabot, PAJ Vice President and Binhi Awards committee chairman Noel O. Reyes and PAJ past president Roman Floresca.
Former Agriculture Secretary Senen Bacani, chairman of the Binhi Awards Board of Judges, also assisted in presenting the awards. The judges included Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Monetary Board Member Bruce Tolentino, San Miguel Corp. Assistant Vice President Mary Jane Llanes Oconer, broadcaster and former party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones and Dr. Crispin Maslog.
In a separate message, Secretary Pinol stressed “the importance of agricultural journalists not only as disseminators of new agricultural technologies to our farmers and fisherfolk, but also as watchdogs on governance, initiators of policy debates and catalysts of change in the countryside.”
“I am confident that through the Binhi Awards, the PAJ would continue to strengthen its partnership and cooperation with the Department of Agriculture in equipping our farmers and fisherfolk not only with enough knowledge and tools to do safe, sustainable and profitable agriculture but also with enough wisdom and inspiration to achieve holistic and inclusive rural and national progress,” Pinol stressed.
In his keynote speech, Secretary Pinol unveiled the Department of Agriculture’s roadmap to raise agricultural productivity while addressing concerns on El Nino, water shortage and irrigation supply.
Dr. Owen Roberts, IFAJ president, also sent his felicitations to the PAJ during its event on behalf of the 5,000 agricultural journalists in IFAJ’s 50 member countries.
“Strong guilds need active members and visionary, committed leaders. In our busy and complicated world, it can be challenging to find time to look beyond our immediate obligations and needs as professionals. That’s why I extend special thanks to officers and directors, for rising to this challenge for the good of our entire sector,” Dr. Roberts stated in his message.
“Agricultural journalists have an increasingly vital role in knowledge mobilization, in conveying pertinent news and information to farmers so they may be as productive, sustainable and profitable as possible,” Dr. Roberts said. “Take pride in every word you produce, every photo you take, every broadcast you record, every binhi you help grow. You are supporting what is arguably the world’s most important sector. “
Others who congratulated the PAJ were Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, Agrarian Reform Secretary John F. Casticiones, Ramon S. Ang, President and COO of San Miguel Corporation, and Henry Lim Bon Liong, president of SL Agritech Co.
During the event, the PAJ announced its rejoining the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) and also presented Excellence in Agricultural Journalism Award (posthumous) to the late journalist and professor Rodolfo “Rudy” Fernandez.
Lifetime Achievement Awards were also be presented to educator-journalist Dr. Anselmo Roque, journalist Zac Sarian, editor of Manila Bulletin agriculture section and Agriculture Magazine; former Press Undersecretary and now Balita columnist Marcelo Lagmay and PAJ co-founder Joaquin Jake Espino.
Special awards were also conferred on hybrid rice pioneer Henry Lim Bon Liong of SL Agritech Corp. and PAJ past president Roman Floresca.
Aside from Alfredo Gabot, officers inducted by Secretary Pinol were Fermin Diaz, VP for internal affairs; Noel Reyes, VP for external affairs; Ruby Lumongsod, secretary; Aileen Garcia, asst. secretary; Inez Magbual, treasurer; Thelma Tolentino, auditor; Michael Alunan, PRO for print; Rolando Gonzalo, PRO for Broadcast; Rex Navarro, Johnny Goloyugo, Charisma Love Gado Gonzales, Melly Tenorio and Rogelio Matalang, and past president Roman Floresca, directors.