Response to an Urgent Need
It was then UP System President Edgardo Angara who said that the Philippines took for granted the need to establish a research on rice of its own. He was the leader who convened the committee to brainstorm the idea of establishing a national rice research center.
The proposal for the establishment of PhilRice was submitted to then Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos through then Agriculture and Food Minister Salvador H. Escudero III. The Executive Order (EO1061) creating PhilRice was signed by President Marcos on November 5, 1985.
Then Pres. Corazon C. Aquino signed EO 60 on November 7, 1986, which affirmed the creation and increased membership in the Board of Trustees of PhilRice.
Laying the Groundwork
Minister of Agriculture Ramon V. Mitra and UP System President Edgardo J. Angara identified and recommended the members of PhilRice Board of Trustees (BOT) for appointment by President Aquino.
While a director has not yet been appointed, an Executing Committee chaired by UPLB College of Agriculture Dean Ruben L. Villareal laid the groundwork for PhilRice’s program plan and operations. In June 1987, PhilRice operations went full swing with the assumption to office of its first Executive Director, Dr. Santiago R. Obien. Before his appointment, Obien was president of the Mariano Marcos State University and director of the Philippine Tobacco Research and Training Center. With Dr. Obien at the helm, the Executing Committee was dissolved and a PhilRice-UPLB Management Committee was created to select UPLB staff members to be seconded to PhilRice as program leaders. The Committee’s functions were gradually reduced as PhilRice was being organized.
Finding a Home
PhilRice’s headquarters, originally located at UPLB Campus, could not meet the envisioned manpower and program expansion. Thus, upon the suggestion of Prof. Kenzo Hemmi, IRRI BOT chair, PhilRice sought infrastructure and technical assistance from the Government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Ramon V. Mitra, Carlos G. Dominguez, and Senen C. Bacani, secretaries of agriculture, strongly supported the idea.
Since its creation in November 1985, PhilRice has stood by its reason-for-being: to help respond to the needs of the struggling rice farmers and the country’s endeavors to attain self-sufficiency in rice.