DA-RFU 8 building

DA-RFO 8 building

The Department of Agriculture is the main agency that oversees the country’s agricultural and fishery sectors. Through its regional field units (RFUs), all agricultural policies and programs emanating from the national leadership are carried out and implemented in close collaboration with various stakeholders which include the local government units (LGUs), state colleges and universities (SCUs), private organizations and entities involved in agricultural and fishery development.

On June 23, 1898, days after the proclamation of the Philippine Independence (First Philippine Republic) the Department of Agriculture and Manufacturing was created as one of the first agencies of the new government formed by President Emilio Aguinaldo. Jose Alejandrino was the first director from 1898-1899, he was replaced by Graciano Gonzaga and Leon Ma. Guerero in 1899. The Department was administered under the American Sovereignty until 1917, the administrations of Secretaries took place from which significant changes in the Department had emerged.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) was established by virtue of PD 461, dated 17 May 1974.

In 1978, the Department of Agriculture or DA and Department of Natural Resources or DNR (split Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources or DANR) were transformed to Ministry of Agriculture (MA), with Arturo R. Tanco, Jr. as MA Minister.

In 1984, the agency was renamed as Ministry of Agriculture and Food (MAF) with Assemblyman Salvador H. Escudero III, MAF Minister.

In 1987, DA was reorganized (from MAF) pursuant to EO 116 signed by President Aquino. The department, through Carlos G. Dominguez introduced a number of reforms/programs to increase farmer’s financial capability such as CALF and LEAD.

In 1992, by virtue of Local Government Code of 1991, agricultural support, extension, and on-site research services and facilities have been devolved to barangays, municipalities, and provinces and had given increased powers to efficiently and effectively deliver the agricultural services into their locality.

With the devolution of the role of DA, certain bureau functions have now become powers of the LGUs. These include (1) functions of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), development of livestock, poultry and dairy industries; (2) functions of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), control and prevention of pests and diseases that affect farm crops; (3) management, accelerated development, and proper utilization of fishery and aquatic resources; (4) functions of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), formulation of measures for effective soil, land and water resource utilization; (5) functions of the Bureau of Agricultural Cooperatives and Development, establishment and monitoring of agricultural cooperatives in the rural communities.

Also transferred to the LGUs were functions of the Bureau of Agricultural Extension (BAEx) which included the extension service personnel, on-site research activities, budget, and facilities among others. A number of personnel of the department were technically and administratively placed under the supervision of the local chief executives. Provincial Agriculturist/City or Municipal Agriculturist is now responsible to coordinate and supervise the extension plans and programs in each locality.

Following this devolved setup, local units are given revenue-raising powers or option of increasing their spending by raising their own tax revenue. The Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) is also designed to augment the budget of the local unit to ensure the provision of minimum or reasonable level of public services.

In 1994, with the enactment of RA, 7160 otherwise known as the local Government Code of 1991 the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit VIII was redesigned as Regional Field Unit No. VIII.

December 20, 2004, a fire incident has marked in the DA-8 history when it gutted the whole regional office located in Kanhuraw Hill, Tacloban City. All properties, equipment and records were lost.

However, DA-8 has continued its operations by transferring its office in Soils Laboratory, Plant Quarantine and leasing an office in Tacloban City. After eight years, the DA-8 operating units that were temporarily housed in different DA Facilities in Tacloban City were physically reunited when  the new regional office building  was inaugurated last February 2012.

Below are the successions of DA Secretaries two years after post-EDSA  reorganizations:

•    Senen Bacani (1989 – 1992)
•    Roberto Sebastian (1992 – 1996)
•    William Dar (June 1996 – May 1999)
•    Edgardo Angara (May 1999 – January 2001)
•    Domingo Panganiban (January – February 2001)
•    Leonardo Montemayor (February 2001 – December 2002)
•    Luis Lorenzo Jr. (December 2002 – August 2004)
•    Arthur Yap (August 2004 – July 2005; October 2006 – March 2010)
•    Domingo Panganiban (July 2005 – October 2006)
•    Bernie Fondevilla (March 2010 – June 2012)
•    Proceso J. Alcala (June 2012 – June 2016)

•    Emmanuel F. Piñol (July 2016 – 2021)

•    William D. Dar (2021 – 2022)
•    His Excellency Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr (2022 – Present)