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At 65, Sec. Piñol earns doctorate in rural development

GOVERNANCE/POLITICS • 13:00 PM Sat Jun 8, 2019
Edwin O. Fernandez
Agriculture Sec. Emmanuel Piñol (Photo courtesy of Dr. Josa Bernadette Piñol) and Agri Tayo Soccsksargen)

KABACAN, North Cotabato – Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol today earned his doctorate in rural development during the commencement exercises of the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) in Kabacan, North Cotabato.

“This is the big event of my life,” Piñol said as he prepared to march at the USM grounds early Saturday morning.

“Today, I will join 14 others who will be conferred the Doctoral Degree in four fields - Rural Development, Agricultural Sciences, Extension Services and Education,” said Piñol, the lone candidate for PhD in Rural Development, a degree he started working on 10 years ago.

His dissertation was on Easy Access Credit and Its Impact on Agricultural Productivity and Rural Poverty.

His being a member of Pres. Duterte’s cabinet and his age had not stopped him from pursuing the dream of earning a doctorate degree.  He is 65 years old.

Asked why work for additional academic accomplishments even at his age?  “All my life, I have always looked at every new day as a learning day because I believe that Learning is an Everlasting Process of discovery,” he said.

“The thought of being able to discover new things tomorrow is what keeps me going even at my age,” Piñol said.

Piñol’s academic story was an interesting one.

He graduated valedictorian both in elementary and high school but did not finish college. A College dropout, he pursued a passion, writing until he became a full-time journalist and later elected mayor in his town and governor in his province – North Cotabato.

When he was elected mayor of Mlang town and later governor, only few people knew he was a college drop out.

Upon the persuasion of one of his staff and sisters-in-law, he decided to finish his college degree under the Expanded Tertiary Equivalency Accreditation Program (ETEAP).

“The ETEAP was a program designed for drop-outs like me who wanted to finish their college degree. It converted our work experiences into academic credits and asked us to submit requirements to complete the degree,” he recalled.

In 2006, he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Development Communications and inspired by that achievement, he decided to pursue a Master's Degree in Rural Economic Development which he completed two years later.

“Then, I chased the dream of earning a doctorate degree joking that at least when I die, my tombstone would have the inscription "Emmanuel Piñol, PhD RIP," he said in jest.

His doctorate degree goal took a longer route as he had to work as Secretary of Agriculture thus preventing him from continuing studies for several semesters.

In January this year, he successfully defended his dissertation. “The only difference between my dissertation and that of others is that I will not be presenting a treatise or a theory but relating actual experiences,” he said. (Edwin O. Fernandez)

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