The spirit of volunteerism lives on, as volunteers of the agriculture and fisheries councils (AFCs), an organization composed of individuals from both the private and government sectors nationwide, continue to prove that anyone could serve the public by having their voices heard and participating in the development process.
To recognize and give awards to outstanding AFC chairpersons and secretariat-coordinators for their accomplishments particularly in bringing change to the agri-fishery sector through volunteerism, the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) annually holds the National Agriculture and Fisheries Volunteers’ Day.
“Nandito kami, handang tumulong para sa mga magsasaka (We are here, ready to help the farmers),” Central Luzon Regional AFC Chairperson Francisco Hernandez said during the 5th Volunteers’ Day held recently.
“Regardless of religion, we are all brothers and sisters, so let us serve without expecting anything in return.”
“Ano man ang relihiyon, lahat tayo magkakapatid kaya tayo ay maglingkod na walang hinihintay na kapalit (Regardless of religion, we are all brothers and sisters, so let us serve without expecting anything in return),” added Hernandez, who was awarded as the 2019 Outstanding Regional AFC Chairperson.
According to PCAF, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the AFCs have volunteer partners who rendered selfless and dedicated service to perform their duties in the council since 1987.
As part of the Volunteers’ Day, PCAF recognized the outstanding secretariat-coordinators and chairpersons of the AFCs at the municipal, provincial, and regional levels for the 5th Search for Outstanding AFC Chairpersons and Secretariat-Coordinators.
This year, PCAF also awarded the first Outstanding Advisory Special Bodies Women Leader to Emelinda Dela Cruz from Western Visayas.
“You are at the center of the development process. We (at the government) are only a catalyst,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar told the farmers and fisherfolk present at the Volunteers’ Day.
Dar, who formerly served as chairperson-coordinator of the National Agriculture and Fisheries Council in 1999, proposed that the PCAF consultative committees must be integrated with the DA Banner Programs.
“This consultative process, this engagement of volunteers from all over the country is important. The synergy of PCAF committees with the Banner Programs must be strengthened,” the agriculture chief said.
The agriculture head also proposed for the active participation of AFC chairpersons at the important committees and programs of the regional field offices and local government units.
“At 65–70, your wisdom is still very significant, your experience will continue to be recognized, and your ideas will always be welcomed.”
“At 65–70 (years of age), your wisdom is still very significant, your experience will continue to be recognized, and your ideas will always be welcomed,” he said to the AFC members.
Involvement in the AFCs provides an opportunity for individuals and organizations to exercise their rights to participate in the social, political, and economic decision-making as enshrined in the Constitution.
Based on Executive Order No. 116, Series of 1987, PCAF is mandated to establish a nationwide network of AFCs to serve as the forum for consultative and continuing discussions within the agriculture and fisheries sector.