OPA Through The Years
By Edna B. Garde
Project Development Officer II
Manager, Farmers Information and Technology Services (FITS) Center
The creation of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist did not start from the Province of Negros Occidental itself, but as an offshoot out of the many transitions that had taken place from the national level.
In 1957, the Bureau of Agricultural Extension (BAEx) was created through Republic Act No. 186, mandating the local government units to establish extension office for the agricultural productivity.
To this effect, here in Negros Occidental, a Provincial Agriculturist was appointed (by the DA Central Office) in the person of Mr. Olimpo Fontanella whose salary was paid by the Provincial Government. He was succeeded by Mr. Loredo Jamandre who was later transferred/promoted to Cebu.
In lieu of him, Mr Jose Biboso was appointed Provincial Agriculturist. Unfortunately he met his untimely death in 1965. The Bureau was then named Agricultural Productivity Commission or APC in 1964-1973. Mr Biboso was replaced by Mr. Lagtapon, who was appointed by then Governor Alfredo Montelibano, Jr. until 1976. Employees in the bureau were either paid through the provincial or national fund.
From 1974 to 1979, APC was backed on its name as Bureau of Agricultural Extension. Mr. Silvestre B. Ocampo, Jr. was appointed as Provincial Agriculturist from 1977 to 1997.
In 1980, the integration of the different bureaus into one as Department of Agriculture (DA) took place. These were the Bureau of Agricultural Extension, Bureau of Plant Industry, Bureau of Animal Industry, Bureau of Soils and Bureau of Cooperative Development. The former name of DA was Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, having DENR under its department, before the integration took place.
Later, DA was named Ministry of Agriculture (MA) in which the Provincial Agriculturist became Provincial Executive Officer (PEO) as its Department Head in the Province. Still later, the PEO was appointed by the Central Office as Provincial Agricultural Officer or PAO. This was in the person of Silvestre B. Ocampo, Jr.
In 1985, MA became MAF or Ministry of Agriculture and Food since the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) was merged with agriculture. It was during the period when the national government ordered that the Provincial Agricultural Officer (PAO) would be distinct from the Provincial Agriculturist.
Eventually, the MAF became Department of Agriculture (DA) when the reorganization took place. A Provincial Agricultural Officer was appointed under the plantilla of national-paid personnel. In 1987, the Province of Negros Occidental appointed the first PAO in the person of Mr. Sofronio A. Parohinog. The nationally-paid personnel were separated from the staff of provincial agriculturist but became the extension arm of the national government in the province.
The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist or OPA was established as one distinct department under the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental. It had fifty-six Agricultural Food Technicians (AFT’s) and Extension Service Technicians (EST’s) who were being deployed in the different municipalities and cities in the province performing duties and functions as directed by the Provincial Office. Finally in 1987, DA programs were separated from OPA, such that OPA field personnel became fully responsible to supervise all provincial funded projects.
Mr. Ocampo, then PA, lobby for the reorganization of OPA and upgrading of positions of provincial paid employees under his department. that resulted to an open hiring and before the implementation of Local Government Code of 1991, there were sixty-nine permanent employees and twenty-six contractual workers under the OPA.
When the Local Government Code of 1991 was fully implemented in 1993, employees under DA were devolved to respective local government units they had been serving. As a result of this devolution, sixteen personnel were added to OPA’s workforce, while other DA personnel were assigned to the Provincial Human Resource Management Office, Provincial Treasurer’s Office, Provincial Budget Management Office, and Provincial Accounting Office. Still others applied for the vacant positions available in the LGU they had been assigned to before. Sometime on that period, OPA held office at BFAR building, at Aguinaldo Street, Bacolod City.
When Mr. Ocampo retired in 1997, OPA was managed by then Assistant Provincial Agriculturist, Engr. Igmedio Jabonete Tabianan in his capacity as Officer-in-charge. And in 1998, he was finally appointed as Provincial Agriculturist.
Sometime in June 2006, upon the order of the late Governor, Hon. Joseph G. Maranon, to abandon the old BFAR building, OPA to hold office temporarily to two locations, namely; the former Negros Occidental barangay Center (NOBC) and the former Barangay Hall at the Provincial Administration Center.
In December, 2006 OPA personnel at NOBC were made to transfer at the newly renovated barangay hall at the 2/F of the Provincial Administration Center at Aguinaldo Street that became the permanent office of the Provincial Agriculture until now.
To date, there are 126 permanent plantilla positions and 15 contractual employees in OPA under the leadership of PA Igmedio J. Tabianan.