Jaime Augusto Zobel asks: ‘How can I help the farmers?’


Jaime Augusto Zobel asks: 'How can I help the farmers?' by DA SEC Manny Piñol

Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, scion of the Ayala clan who virtually owns the Makati Business District and one of the richest men in the Philippines, is among those labeled as the “Oligarchs” who prey on the poor and do nothing but enrich themselves.

On Monday, however, he showed a side of him that has never been known by many people, including the poor who look at the rich as their oppressors.

Jaime Zobel visited the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on Monday, waited for me in my office for a few minutes as I attended to other visitors who came ahead of him, to ask how he could support the program of the government to help Filipino farmers and fishermen.

I have to admit that I was extremely honoured and humbled by his visit and touched by the expression of concern for poor farmers and fishermen by one of the richest men in the country.

“What can I do to help?,” Zobel, who came along with Ayala Foundation executive Ruel Maranan, asked.

I told him that there is a lot that he could do to improve the lives of Filipino farmers and fishermen.

To start, I told Zobel that Ayala Corporation could support the Filipino rice farmers by sourcing the supply of rice for its employees from organised farmers cooperatives now being assisted by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

I said that if all of the employees of Ayala Corporation could be supplied with freshly-milled rice produced by our farmers, it would be a big help to our program to directly link them to the market.

“We can do that. Who do we coordinate with?,” he asked me.

When I told him that I was handling the program personally and Ruel Maranan could coordinate with me directly, he let out a big laugh.

On Thursday, I received a text message through my Globe phone, which incidentally is owned by Ayala Corporation, from Undersecretary Francisco Villano saying that the Zobel group was already asking for the details of the direct supply of rice program for its employees.

My engagement with Zobel actually started during the launching of the Sulu Project in MalacaƱang late last year where he joined other big names in the corporate world who pledged support for the rehabilitation of the war-torn and impoverished province.

It was there where he told me that he would like to visit my office and have coffee, a statement which I thought was just a nicety and empty talk.

On Monday, he popped up in my office and proved that not all Oligarchs are heartless and oppressive.

They too would like to help and maybe nobody reached out to them in the past and asked them to contribute to lifting the farmers and fishermen from poverty.

Or maybe, they were just waiting for a President who they know shuns corruption and truly cares for the people and that President is here, Rody Duterte.

#Changeishere! #PresRodyCares! #DuterteDelivers! #BenevolentOligarch!

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