SOMEONE ALREADY affiliated with the sector is likely to be appointed as the next Agriculture secretary, according to one of the President’s top economic managers.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez, in a press briefing at the Pre-State of the Nation Address Economic and Infra Forum held in the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on Monday, said President Rodrigo R. Duterte will most likely choose a new Department of Agriculture (DA) chief who “is very intimately familiar with the sector and somebody who has shown success in doing his job in that area.”

“I guess those are the main qualifications that the President will consider,” he added.

Last June 27, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol submitted his courtesy resignation and suggested to be transferred to the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).

In his letter to the President, Mr. Piñol recommended three undersecretaries as possible replacements for him, namely: Waldo R. Carpio, undersecretary for special concerns and legislative liaison officer of the DA; Ariel T. Cayanan, undersecretary for operations; and Francisco M. Villano, undersecretary for finance.

The resignation has yet to be officially accepted by Mr. Duterte but the President already said that he would prefer Mr. Piñol to help him with Mindanao concerns.

Sought for comment, lawyer and Ateneo Policy Center research fellow Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco said the new Agriculture secretary could be someone who is a close ally of both the President and Mr. Piñol.

“Hence, there is a very good chance that the programs that he (Mr. Piñol) started will simply be continued. The new Secretary will probably be very cautious and conservative in the performance of this job given that it is less than 3 years away till the next Presidential election,” Mr. Yusingco told BusinessWorld in an emailed response.

“He would be very averse to introduce new programs which could be controversial as this can possibly give the opposition the ammunition they need to win in 2022,” he added.

University of Santo Tomas Political Science Professor Marlon M. Villarin, on the other hand, said the new agriculture chief might be an “outsider.”

“Looking at the President’s personality and previous decision, I think he might consider an outsider as a replacement for (Mr.) Piñol, probably a known technocrat,” he told BusinessWorld in a text message.

Mr. Villarin said such a choice could be driven by the administration’s aim to meet or even exceed goals by 2022, when Mr. Duterte is due to step down.

“Probably this revamp movement of Pres. Duterte to the cabinet is both strategic and politically calibrated decision to make sure that his cabinet team are capable of meeting and hopefully exceed their desired political, economic and social outcome before his term ends,” he said. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang