Farmer-members of 54 dairy cooperatives in Nueva Ecija province honored Dr. Libertado C. Cruz, who has retired from public service, during a recognition program held January 9 at the national headquarters and gene pool of the Philippine Caabao Center (PCC) in the Science City of Muñoz.
The coops are members of the Nueva Ecija Federation of Dairy Carabao Cooperatives (NEFEDCCO), which is an assisted-group in PCC’s National Impact Zone (NIZ).
Cruz served as executive director of PCC from its inception in 1993 up until his 65th birthday, which marked his official retirement as a government employee.
Dubbed as “Pista sa Nayon: Papugay at Pasasalamat”, the tribute program was also attended by almost 50 representatives from various national government agencies, foreign development agencies and local government units.
The entities represented during the tribute were the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) as well as the LGUs of Llanera and Talavera, Nueva Ecija, among others.
Florencio Collado, incumbent NEFEDCCO chair, described Cruz as “a humble and very dedicated leader.”
“The integrity, diplomacy and discipline of Dr. Cruz are worthy of emulation by about 3,000 dairy farmers currently assisted by PCC,” he added.
On the other hand, Mayor Lorna Mae Vero of Llanera town thanked Cruz for the dairy buffaloes provided to farmer-beneficiaries under PCC’s 25-cow modules, which have become an additional source of income for the farmers and their families.
“The Lord used you (Cruz) as an instrument to help ease the poverty of the people of Llanera,” she declared.
For her part, Director Brigida Pili of the DTI in Nueva Ecija, said: “Thank you Dr. Lib for embracing the mandate of DTI to foster the marketing activities of the dairy carabao stakeholders, and in pursuing and supporting the partnership between PCC and DTI on the holding of the ‘Gatas ng Kalabaw Festival’, which is now on its 8th year.”
Jocelyn Ramones, provincial agrarian reform officer in District I of the DAR in Nueva Ecija, described Dr. Cruz as “a boss who is easy to contact and transact with.”
Dr. Surendra Ranjhan, a former Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) chief technical adviser in the United Nations Development Program and considered as one of the outstanding pillars in the creation and operation of PCC, praised Cruz as being “much liked here and abroad in the field of carabao research and development.”
“He will never retire. He will work globally with us, with our ASEAN buffalo association, with our world buffalo congress and associations because he is very much liked and contributed significantly not only in the Philippines but globally,” he stressed.
In response, Dr. Cruz said he was “overwhelmed by the show of support, appreciation and love from our partner-farmers, their leaders, LGU officials and the PCC staff.”
He recognized the key role of the NEFEDCCO officials, directors and staff in serving as the strong base of the cooperatives in the province and for the federation as a whole. He also hailed the LGUs for their strong support in the implementation of the carabao development program in their respective localities.
To the PCC staff, Dr. Cruz said: “Thank you for helping us for the last 20 years in delivering the agency’s mandate.”
He expressed recognition for the hard work of the PCC team in making the agency “a prominent center on buffalo research and development in the world map.”
At the same time, Dr. Cruz expressed appreciation to his spouse, Teresita Cruz, “for understanding my work and allowing our family to understand me as well.”
He concluded his farewell remarks by saying: “I thank the Lord for an opportunity to be able to share the last 20 years of my life in the service