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Rice pila again? DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 10/07/2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

Rice pila again?

Herman Tiu Laurel
The annual floods that are already an expected ritual by the Philippine population have come and gone (at least for most), but the problems caused by this latest deluge are certainly going to stay longer than the yet-to-recede flood waters in certain parts of Northern and Central Luzon.

This long submersion of our rice fields was one major issue on the mind of farmer-leader Sonny Domingo, whose post-“Pedring” assessment of the rice supply situation I asked for. “The problem,” he said, “is the proximity of the typhoons and floods which came one after the other in a span of a day or two (didn’t allow) the rice fields and rice stocks (enough) time to dry. (And as) 50 percent of Central Luzon rice harvests have been hit; now the grains are blackened.”

I immediately queried if we are going to have another rice pila — to which he said: “(Unless) we can bring in rice from Mindanao.” But there’s a catch: “We don’t have enough bottoms (ships) so they can’t ship enough.”

If it’s not the lack of one thing, it is another. And as the crises for Filipinos never seem to end, the urgent question for everyone now is whether Luzon and the rest of the country will be facing another rice supply crisis because of the recent calamities.

The top honcho of the Department of Agriculture (DA), politician Proceso Alcala, boasted in the first few months of the present administration (after sufficient rains blessed the country) that “We have achieved the highest production in history.” He even declared that, by 2013, we will not need to import anymore.

It seems his enthusiasm was so palpable that, according to one Internet account I read, “Old-timers in the Department of Agriculture who cautioned him from such an ‘impossible dream’ found (themselves) removed or canned.”

It wasn’t just that: Alcala boasted that only 500,000 metric tons of imports for 2012 (as against Gloria Arroyo’s last year imports of 2.45 million metric tons) would be necessary. That, of course, would be ideal as our farmer-leader Sonny Domingo will say. But given the realities, just a slight miscalculation will usher in hell and high water for the entire nation.

Just think of the grave error committed by Fidel Ramos’ dreamy-eyed DA secretary, Bobot Sebastian, who, upon his boss’ much-hyped “Kaya natin ito” and “high value crops” campaign, held back on securing buffer supplies and ended up with shocking images of rice queues for hours on end, with people waiting for their meager rice rations in lines that spanned hundreds of meters, and with rice delivery trucks being reportedly attacked by hungry folks desperate to feed their families.

Thus, my own advocacy for the country’s long-term food strategy is not only to address the rice production issue but also to start giving emphasis to changing our attitude toward the dietary staple.

I have personally shifted to consuming only kamoteng orange, something that my mother used to feed me by mixing into lugaw whenever I came down with a fever. That white or parchment-colored root crop on the outside (and orange inside) is what the Chinese use for nursing back the sick. I now take this every meal, avoiding white rice. I only take the latter once or twice a week whenever sinangag, paired with chicken-pork adobo, is laid out on the table (which I still find irresistible). But my “orange kamote and no rice habit” has caught on in the family; my diabetic wife finds that her blood sugar has decreased while my fitness-conscious son lost eight pounds of fat in a week by totally avoiding white rice.

The People’s Republic of China is engaged in a national drive to develop root crops — and a wide variety of it — as its future staple replacing rice. Potatoes and such root crops require a fifth of the water that rice needs to produce each calorie and pack more nutrients. China, of course, has produced wonders and miracles in multiplying its rice production yields from its own developed hybrids and vast irrigation system. It is a balanced development of that nation’s agriculture that has ensured its food security well into a quarter of a century into the future.

The problem with BS Aquino III’s Agriculture secretary is that he is building his promises on wild dreams without preparing the ground, and without a fully-integrated and balanced development plan that includes all the other branches of government. Maybe that’s what the National Food Authority sees as perilous, making it continuously urge for more buffer stocks.

Of course, importing rice has become an unpopular idea, especially since its massive abuse by the Arroyo administration. But, if immediate food security is essential, then it cannot be discounted.

The matter of actual supply versus statistical shortages, as reported by UP Los Baños expert Teodoro Mendoza, must therefore be checked out. We’re told that much of the supply, including plenty of smuggled rice, is in Mindanao. But then, Sonny Domingo’s info on lack of ships also becomes crucial. According to the office of Sen. Antonio Trillanes, our country’s Cabotage Law has made inter-island shipping so expensive that it is more costly to ship from Mindanao to Luzon than it is from foreign shores to Manila.

Indeed, the problem is more complicated than just a promise of rice self-sufficiency in two years’ time. It certainly requires more “coconuts,” i.e. brain power, to solve, (the literal version of) which, by the way, we will delve into in a future article.

(Tune in to Sulo ng Pilipino/Radyo OpinYon, Monday to Friday, 5 to 6 p.m. on 1098AM; Talk News TV with HTL, Saturday, 8:15 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 8 on “VAT, Fuel, Power Protests” with Rep. Tet Garcia and some NGOs; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com for our articles plus TV and radio archives)

(Reprinted with permission from Mr. Herman Tiu-Laurel)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111007com6.html

So transparent, can’t even see him EDITORIAL 10/07/2011

So transparent, can’t even see him

Click to enlarge
The slack of Noynoy has become a stuff for legend and equally legendary have become the alibis Malacañang issues each time he has a bout with lethargy.

The latest inertia seizure happened right after Noynoy’s state visit to Japan which was not anything to crow about since these were mainly social calls to the new prime minister of that country and a courtesy call on the Japanese emperor.

It was said that Noynoy comforted the victims of the recent multiple disasters that hit Japan and had ran out of compassion, not to speak of energy as a result.

The Japanese disaster victims even appeared to have gotten a better shake from Noy as he donated $1 million (P44.5 million) to the second or third richest country of the world as the supposed share of the country for Japan’s rehabilitation..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111007com1.html

No heart

No heart

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Deputy Minority Leader Rep. Danny Suarez has called for an investigation into cancelled flood control projects entered into by the previous administration.

These flood control projects done through negotiated contracts, Suarez pointed out, were in the very areas in Luzon which felt the brunt of the twin typhoons, and have been inundated, with waters that were waist- and neck-deep.

Suarez’s bill was “an urgent resolution calling for an investigation in aid of legislation by the appropriate committee of the House of Representatives regarding the effect of the cancellation of the post Ondoy and Pepeng short term infrastructure rehabilitation projects (Popstrip) on the flood control program of the government,” adding that months before the onset of the rainy season, the current Aquino administration cancelled several flood control projects.”

He pointed to a Department of Public Works and Highway press release dated July 28, 2010, where DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson was quoted as having cancelled 19 approved negotiated projects worth P934.1 million under the Popstrip, which projects were part of the contract packages funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) loan for the urgent rehabilitation of flood control facilities worth P1.9 billion..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111007com2.html

Faith in US economy evaporates ahead of 2012 vote focus 10/07/2011

Faith in US economy evaporates ahead of 2012 vote


WASHINGTON — It is easy to imagine the gasps of horror rising from the White House.

Sometime in the not too distant future — perhaps just weeks before the November 2012 presidential election — the semi-official National Bureau of Economic Research declares the US economy is back in recession.

It is a scenario that a growing number of economists believe is probable and which could hand President Barack Obama the single biggest challenge of his reelection campaign.

“The US economy is indeed tipping into a new recession. And there’s nothing that policymakers can do to head it off,” said the Economic Cycle Research Institute, a respected body which for the last year has resisted predicting a double-dip recession..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111007com3.html

Something fishy NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 10/07/2011

Something fishy

Armida Siguion-Reyna
What last came out here on how Mike Arroyo was able to go to Germany using a diplomatic passport solicited this e-mailed response from Manuel Bencamino. If you’re beginning to think that whoever is running the country’s exit and entry ports have begun to operate within legal framework, think again.

“Dear Mrs. Siguion Reyna,
“May I add something to your column on passports. Diplomatic and official passports are valid only for one trip. Every new trip requires revalidation by the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs).

“A by-the-book immigration officer can prohibit the traveler from leaving the country if an un-revalidated official or diplomatic passport is all he is carrying. Kasi hindi pwedeng gamitin ang un-revalidated passport.
At least ganun dati. They may have changed the rules recently. Then again when did rules ever bother the Arroyos? But it would be interesting to know when and who revalidated FG’s passport. Was it revalidated while there was a hold order on him?.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111007com4.html

DPWH and Angry Birds C.R.O.S.S.R.O.A.D.S Jonathan De la Cruz 10/07/2011

DPWH and Angry Birds

Jonathan De la Cruz
Palace spokesmen can take a lesson or two from the creators of that Web site “So What’s News” whose featured articles, first, that of three senior DPWH officials who were photoshopped and inserted as “inspecting” the damage on the Roxas Boulevard seawall near the Manila Yacht Club and now, the fictionalized “Anti-Angry Birds” bill attributed to anti-planking bill author Quezon City Rep. Winnie Castelo, have gone viral reaching audiences worldwide. The satirical Web site whose tagline read “News That Won’t Make You Depressed To Read The News” and which boldly claims that its raison d’etre is “to inject humor into everyday news and to provide respite to readers who have grown weary with mainstream news organizations’ partisan, biased and depressing way of presenting the news” can be the inspiration of the various Malacañang’s media units to counter the continued and, yes, wearying, stream of negative publicity which has inundated the public consciousness on the administration’s seemingly anemic response to the devastation caused by the recent typhoons..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111007com5.html

Digging for truth in Kashmir’s unmarked graves focus 10/07/2011

Digging for truth in Kashmir’s unmarked graves


SRINAGAR — The last time Bilkees Manzoor saw her father was 10 years ago on a snowy January night when a dozen soldiers took him from their family home in Srinagar, capital of Indian Kashmir.

“They said he was needed for questioning and would be released in a couple of hours. We never saw him again,” she said.

Rights groups say as many as 8,000 people, mostly young men, have been “disappeared” by the security forces in Indian Kashmir since an armed insurgency against Indian rule erupted in the Muslim-majority region in 1989.

Manzoor insists her father, who ran a small medical business, had no links to any militant group and she has never been told why he was taken into custody..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20111007com7.html

Noy blinks; Palace won’t impound SC hiring funds By Angie M. Rosales and Benjamin B. Pulta 10/07/2011

Noy blinks; Palace won’t impound SC hiring funds

By Angie M. Rosales and Benjamin B. Pulta 10/07/2011

Malacañang virtually backtracked from its plan to impound billions worth of budgetary allocations for unfilled positions in government in the Judiciary and constitutional bodies in the proposed 2012 national budget.

This Palace impounding of the hiring fees of these constitutional offices has been the bone of contention between the high court with other constitutional offices, and Malacañang, which insisted on controlling their hiring budgets, on claims of transparency, while the high court insisted on the unconstitutionality of the Palace’s control of the budget for hiring personnel, saying that the Constitution mandates fiscal autonomy for the judiciary.

But Malacañang apparently blinked when push came to shove, as the chairman of the Senate finance committee, Sen. Franklin Drilon, an ally of President Aquino who toes the presidential line, yesterday said that the Senate will stick to the provisions of the law granting such privilege to the Judiciary and other constitutional bodies on the disbursement of such which is based on the principle of so-called “fiscal autonomy.”.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20111007hed1.html

No VIP treatment for GMA—Palace By Virgilio J. Bugaoisan 10/07/2011

No VIP treatment for GMA—Palace

By Virgilio J. Bugaoisan 10/07/2011

The probe on the alleged 2007 electoral fraud has not even quite started by way of hearings, yet both Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, along with poll chairman Sixto Brillantes, and the presidential spokesmen appear to have prejudged the case against former President Arroyo and not only have deemed her guilty, but they have even pronounced already just where she would be jailed: In the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa.

Edwin Lacierda, speaking for President Aquino, yesterday said that Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo will not get any VIP (Very Important Person) treatment and will definitely be sent to the National Bilibid Prison if and when she is arrested in connection with accusations that she is behind the alleged massive election cheating during the 2004 and 2007 elections.

A day earlier, Brilliantes claimed that Arroyo will be in jail by Christmas, as election fraud is a non-bailable offense, creating the general impression that the probe body will, even before any hearing.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20111007hed2.html

4 major dams continue to release excess water despite submerged towns 10/07/2011

4 major dams continue to release excess water despite submerged towns

Four major dams in Luzon areas continued to release excess water yesterday as several towns in the region remained submerged under floodwaters a week after the successive onslaughts of Typhoons “Pedring” and “Quiel.”

Reports from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) showed that as of 6 a.m. yesterday one gate of the Ambuklao Dam remains open, and two gates each at the Binga, Magat and San Roque dams.

NDRRMC executive director Undersecretary Benito Ramos, however, stressed that the continuing release of excess water from the reservoirs was not the cause of the massive flooding in Central Luzon areas..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20111007nat2.html

Lawmaker says Aquino allies in ‘mad rush’ to auction RP’s nat’l patrimony to foreigners By Charlie V. Manalo 10/07/2011

Lawmaker says Aquino allies in ‘mad rush’ to auction RP’s nat’l patrimony to foreigners

By Charlie V. Manalo 10/07/2011

The House of Representatives’ committee on constitutional amendments has set a hearing on Tuesday to amend the 1987 Constitution which militant solon Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano described as “a mad rush for the global auction of the country’s patrimony” to foreign investors.

Mariano said the scheduled hearing on Tuesday “revealed President Aquino’s posturing about Charter change (Cha-cha).”

“Why schedule the debates when the Filipino people are still mired in floods and Congress is about to adjourn by next week? This clearly shows that the administration is in a mad rush to auction off our national patrimony,” said Mariano, who also chairs the the militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20111007met2.html

Villar tells authorities: Stop influx of toxic, unsafe toys in market 10/07/2011

Villar tells authorities: Stop influx of toxic, unsafe toys in market

With the public starting to flock to the market for the Christmas season shopping, Sen. Manny Villar said there should be an intensified effort to stop the influx of unsafe and toxic toys in the market.

“Authorities must have a heightened effort to make sure only safe toys are available in the market. As government officials, we are duty-bound to safeguard public health. But more than that, it is our absolute and implicit duty as parents to ensure that our children get the best care and protection against possible health risks,” Villar said during the hearing of the Senate committee on trade and commerce.

Villar added there is a need to pass a law to protect children against potential hazards to their health and safety, especially those containing small components and toxic substance..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/metro/20111007met3.html

Anti-smugglers bid in limbo after Palace freeze order 10/07/2011

Anti-smugglers bid in limbo after Palace freeze order

The suspension of eight members of the Run After the Smugglers (RATS) group of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) effectively paralyzed the six-year-old program as BoC auditors were left without the key people needed to prove the validity of their charges on 36 of a total 44 alleged smuggling cases, official data indicated.

Only 11 of the cases filed under the RATS program thus far have the needed complainants to prosecute the suspected smuggling of P59.224 billion worth of goods, data from the Department of Finance (DoF) showed.

Last Tuesday, the Palace ordered suspended the RATS team composed of Customs Deputy Comissioner Gregorio Chavez, lawyer Christopher Dy Buco, Edgar Quinones, Francisco Fernandez, Alfredo Adao, Jose Elmer Velarde, Thomas Patrick Relucio and Jim Erick Acosta..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/business/20111007bus1.html

Corrupt ways persist Man at the Market Jesse E.L. Bacon II Danessa O. Rivera 10/07/2011

Corrupt ways persist

Man at the Market
Jesse E.L. Bacon II
Danessa O. Rivera 10/07/2011
This is the only Christian country in the Far East, and corruption in government should have been the least of our worries because the faith the overwhelming majority of our people would have served as salt that prevents social decay and preserved morality in all facets of governance.

Unfortunately, this is not so. Corruption is rampant in all levels of government and in fact, it is getting nastier and worse, based on every anti-corruption parameter. Thus, it is very ironic for our country to be tagged as one of the most corrupt in the world and the most corrupt in the region during the previous administration.

The rapacious nature of corruption has become so pervasive that there is no institution in Philippine society today that has remained immune to it. Everyone and everything is affected and afflicted by it. Greed has become insatiable and has also become the sole element that defines and dictates human and corporate behavior..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/business/20111007bus9.html

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