By Genalyn Kabiling
A French businessman has been given an opportunity to become a Filipino citizen and Cabinet member following his contribution to the local rice production.
President Duterte has praised French national Patrick François Renucci for establishing a modern rice processing center in Leyte and offered him Filipino citizenship, a government post and funds to replicate his work in other parts of the country.
Renucci and his Filipino wife Rachel Tan are the brains behind the Cheng Yi Agventures rice processing center in Alang-alang, Leyte that helps boost local farmers’ productivity and income. The modern facility was inaugurated by the President last Friday.
“I’d like to thank François, Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Renucci. Guys, from the bottom of my heart I’d like to thank you for helping my country. I said few in my life, people who would come here and try to help my fellowmen,” the President said.
“If he becomes naturalized citizen, then I think he is qualified to be a member of the Cabinet. Then I can maybe ask Sir Patrick that you join us and help us because it’s really agriculture. Most of it is really the stomach of the Filipino,” he added.
The Renucci couple left France and moved to Leyte in 2015 to help the local farming community recover from the devastation left by super typhoon Yolanda. The rice center provides seed support, farm machines, loans, and post-harvest facilities to help augment farmers’ yield and income.
Impressed with the work of the Renucci couple, the President proposed the swift passage of a measure granting Filipino citizenship to the Frenchman. He said he could also “cut corners” and pass an executive order so Renucci can be a Filipino citizen.
“Patrick is much very willing to be a Filipino citizen. And if we — we can do that in a jiffy, hurry up,” he said.
Duterte recognized that the assistance of the Renucci couple to the local farmers “comes few and rare.” He then offered to give them another P1.5 billion to set up another rice processing center in the country.
“I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. And if we can work together, if you want to stay in the Philippines, and I said considering the amount that you have invested… I’m not that rich but I can give you another 1.5 billion to do your thing,” he said.
“We have the money. Not much, but we have the money, and we can replicate that in about… Well, I am putting him to task in Mindanao. And if we have something like that, maybe, just maybe,” he added.
Towards the end of his remarks, the President said in jest that Renucci could even be named a saint for his advocacy in the country. He said he will rename him Patriocio since there was already an existing St. Patrick.
“If we can have a — this kind of complex in our rice-producing centers all over the Philippines, I think that by that time, I would insist that we raise him to the level of sainthood,” he said.
“Meron bang saint — Saint Patrick has the church in New York? You’ve been there? Ah okay. Well, let us reduce it to a better… I’d like to remain — to rename you Patricio. Not to compete with the American’s name,’ he said.