OUTGOING Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat’s more than two-decade career in government service was spent longest in the agriculture sector.
As undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture from 2007 to April 2018, her job brought her to farm and fishing communities across the country.
“Seeing firsthand the issues and concerns that our farmers and fisherfolk encountered on a daily basis, from getting their produce or seafood to the market, gaining ready access to credit, or needing to increase yields or efficiency, my colleagues and I went to such great lengths to bring greater attention to the country’s agricultural products,” Ms. Romulo-Puyat said in her speech when she recently received the Order of Agricultural Merit conferred by the French government.
As tourism chief since May 2018, she continued to champion the agricultural sector by including farm tourism and local cuisine among the highlights in marketing campaigns for both domestic and international travelers.
French Ambassador Michèle Boccoz said the award is in recognition of her steadfast commitment to supporting the agricultural sector and promoting food culture in the Philippines.
“On behalf of the French government, it is my honor to confer this prestigious award to Bernadette Romulo-Puyat who has shown great commitment, perseverance, and openness to collaborate throughout her career in service of the Filipino people and of the agricultural sector in the Philippines,” Mr. Boccoz said during the awarding ceremony held at the French Residence in Makati City on Tuesday.
The ambassador cited Ms. Romulo-Puyat’s contribution to the development of agricultural products, while supporting gender-inclusive agriculture, expanding links between stakeholders, and encouraging the adoption of modern techniques in the sector.
“I share this award with the people of the Philippines, most especially our farmers and fisherfolk, without whom we would not be standing here today,” she said.
In 2017, a bilateral cooperation agreement was signed to consolidate institutional relations between France’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture. This has strengthened the agricultural and technical cooperation in sectors and areas of common interest.
In the same year, the DA and the French Embassy in Manila jointly organized “Philippine Harvest Meets Bon Appetit,” a food fair showcasing organic and unique Filipino and French cuisines.
Ms. Romulo-Puyat, who holds a Masters degree in Economics, is headed next to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as a deputy governor. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan