After three years of service as acting executive director of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Dr. Sailila E. Abdula is assigned assistant secretary for Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). He will serve in concurrent capacity as Director I of PhilRice Midsayap effective Sept. 16.

As part of his new duties, Agriculture Sec. Dr. William Dar, said the multi-awarded rice breeder from North Cotabato will harmonize rice programs in Mindanao and ensure that the region will receive assistance from the department.

“[The department wants] to help BARMM in a big way. Let’s help achieve a realistic, autonomous BARMM,” Dar said.

Under Abdula’s leadership, PhilRice started the implementation of the seed component of Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund. Infrastructures such as Crop Biotech Center and Germplasm Resources Laboratory were also built.

“Leading the country’s premiere research for development Institution is a prestigious opportunity. I will always be grateful to be gifted with the chance to serve not with the highest position of PhilRice, but in capacity that would allow me to make positive and desirable difference….. in the lives of rice stakeholders,” Abdula said.

In 2018 alone, PhilRice had developed 22 rice varieties approved by the National Seed Industry Council, three of which were PhilRice-bred. Thirty-eight percent of its research for development projects were also gender-responsive.

Abdula, who started his PhilRice career 24 years ago, is a 2018 Presidential Lingkod Bayan awardee – the highest award given to a public servant. The ASEAN Rice Science and Technology Ambassadors Award Search Committee also recognized him as 2017 Outstanding Rice Scientist of the Philippines.