NTA Administrator Robert L. Seares, M.D.The new Administrator of the National Tobacco Administration Robert Lizardo. Seares is a medical doctor from Abra of the Cordillera Administrative Region.
|A MEDICAL DOCTOR FROM A FAMILY OF LEADERS
Since finishing Medicine from the Far Eastern University and passing the Medical Board exam in 1969, Dr. Seares has served the Filipino people and now has more than five decades of service to his name in the medical field. This includes seven years as consultant, one year as chief surgeon and three years as Physician at the Dr. Petronilo V. Seares Memorial Hospital in Bangued, Abra. He also worked at Dolores Medicare and Community Hospital in Dolores, Abra (1979 – 1980) and at St. James Hospital in Vigan City (1998 – 2001).
He was called to higher service in 1980 as Municipal Mayor of Bangued and served for six years. Dr. Seares actually comes from a family of renowned leaders in Abra and to this day, the Seareses are known in Abra as excellent leaders that govern communities towards greatness. This trait is what Dr. Seares hopes to bring to NTA and the tobacco farmers
He is the second eldest of the 10 children of Dr. Petronilo V. Seares, former Governor of Abra (1965 – 1971) and Eliza Lizardo. Dr. Seares is married to Sesy Guzman Seares, a member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Dolores, Abra. They are blessed with four children: Ronald Seares, Michelle Seares-Umali, Archt. Rachelle Seares-Bonalba, and Dolores Mayor Robert Victor G. Seares, Jr.
Colleagues who have worked with the good doctor say he is a strong and dynamic leader. He sets clear objectives and very focused on his responsibilities.
PROVIDING A NEW APPROACH
With his lengthy medical background, he will regularly face questions about his ability to run the agency. But Dr. Seares is optimistic about this and does not consider this as a problem, but rather a new approach that the agency needs, especially with the no smoking advocacy slowly gaining ground in the country. After assuming office on February 9, 2017, he took it upon himself to see to it that the lives of the farmers will improve with the help of the agency, and with the support and cooperation of the buyers and other stakeholders. "I will work for the welfare of the tobacco farmers as long as the industry needs them," he emphasized.
According to Dr. Seares, "the Agency needs all industry stakeholders, especially the private sector and the LGUs to help the agency address the issue on quality tobacco production."
WELCOMING THE CHALLENGES, PARTNERING WITH STAKEHOLDERS
During a trip to the tobacco growing provinces in Region 1 and Abra, Dr. Seares observed that a significant portion of lands previously producing tobaccos have evidently been reduced and the farmers have shifted to corn and other crops.
During a meeting with local leaf buyers in Dolores, Abra on February 22, 2017, he exhorted the leaf buyers to be part of the solution, by helping the agency improve the lives of the tobacco growers. He urged them to be considerate of the farmers' interests by ensuring the interest rates of their loans are not excessive, and that they be fair with the farmers on proper grading and weighing of their produce, as well as strictly follow the rules and regulations of the trading.
From his experience as Municipal Mayor, he knows that the progress of the municipality depends on the amount of available funds the local government has access to and as such, the Tobacco Excise Tax on locally manufactured Tobacco (pursuant to RA 7171 and RA 8240, as amended by RA 10351), is a big boost to the local government units.
He cites the achievements of the town of Dolores, Abra, currently under the leadership of his youngest son, Robert Victor G. Seares, Jr. The town's share from the tobacco excise tax is small compared to other tobacco-producing LGUs but because it is prudently spent, it has impacted a great deal on the communities leading to various infrastructure and development projects, financial assistance to local growers and improved capacity of the local government to deliver basic services to their constituents.
Dr. Seares plans to work closely with the LGUsin promoting the use of the excise tax to enhance the productivity and advancing the welfare of tobacco farmers and their communities. "LGUs with a bigger share of tobacco are expected to give more for their constituents as they have more funds to spend," he said.
TOWARDS A PROMISING FUTURE
On his first day in Office, he informed the Central Office employees of his plans for the agency: enhancing the organization, continuing beneficial programs and formulating new ones, taking care of the farmers and their families, and the wise and judicious use of the NTA's resources.
Dr. Seares came on board at this time when significant challenges, such as anti-smoking campaigns and related legal frameworks, are as strong as ever. He echoes however what his predecessors have been saying, that the tobacco industry in the country has a very promising future, that is, if good tobacco quality is sustained.
He said that the LGUs are raking in funds with every release of the tobacco excise tax. "We have to realize this remarkable opportunity and create meaningful benefits for our tobacco farmers. Let us embrace our responsibility in becoming partners for change for the entire nation.