|March 26th, 2008, 10:55 PM||#201|
Join Date: Jan 2006
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It's time to bring out the mais.
Hindi problema sa bisaya yan, mahilig kami sa mais
(hirap lang iluto)
"All morons hate it when you call them a moron." Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye
|March 27th, 2008, 03:56 PM||#203|
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Los Baños, Laguna
Likes (Received): 0
TO EVERYONE @ SSC: BE WARNED
I have been informed that someone's claiming to be "vince_rilian" through chatting @ YM. Please be warned that whoever that is, it's not me.
|March 27th, 2008, 10:58 PM||#204|
Atenista sa Frisco
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: San Andreas Fault
Likes (Received): 1343
Limited rice supply will force price rise, warn farmers
Farmers yesterday warned of a worsening rice crisis and said prices were expected to soar amid an expected lean harvest next month.
Based on their estimates, production output would only be 1.9 million metric tons that would last only two months, Jimmy Tadeo, chairman of the National Rice Farmer’s Council, noted.
The same period last year saw production in excess of two million metric tons but “there was no global shortage then,” he stressed.
Tadeo said he expects the price of rice per kilo will go as high as P40 from the present P18 during the traditional “lean months” from July to September.
Tadeo called on farmers to put aside some of their har-vests for personal consump-tions because they too will be hit by prices that “will be more unbearable for them.”
Rice, the staple food for 90 million Filipinos, is a political commodity in the country and any fluctuations in price and shortages in supply could potentially touch off unrest, analysts warned.
The government this week announced it was importing rice from neighboring Asian countries amid a global supply crunch.
President Arroyo has acknowledged the country was a “price-sensitive nation” and ordered raids against rice hoarders in a bid to keep the prices steady.
But Jessica Cantos of the local Rice Watch and Action Network, a group tracking developments in the farm sector, said government must instead focus on helping farmers modernize for bigger yields instead of relying on imports.
She said the government must also buy “rice directly from rice farmers at prices higher than the trader’s offer” instead of letting its rice-buying arm negotiate with middle men.
Meanwhile, Sen. Francis Escudero yesterday said the government spending for rice imports could hit P58.7 billion, and the cost of subsidizing cheap rice sold by the National Food Authority (NFA) could reach P21.7 billion.
“That is if rice which costs around P29.40 a kilo to import will continue to be sold by NFA retailers at P18.50 per kilo,” he stressed.
According to the lawmaker, the P10.90-per kilo difference will be the “political premium” the Arroyo administration will have to pay to prevent the perceived lack of the main food of 90 million Filipinos from exploding into a crisis fatal to an already faltering government.
If imported rice will cost $707 per metric ton, which was what the government paid for the 335,000 metric tons it bought this month, then the two million metric tons government plans to bring in this year will cost P58.7 billion, based on a P41.50 to $1 exchange, which is still higher than the official forex forecast.
Of this amount only P37 billion can be recouped, “assuming completely zero trading, storage and transport losses,” Escudero said.
The estimated import price tag, he added, assumes no tax or duty paid, which is 40 percent of imported value under the country’s commitments with the World Trade Organization.
Escudero, however, doubted if duties will be fully waived as tax payments on rice imports bloat the tax effort and make for a beautiful revenue report card.
He said estimates that the P58.7 billion required to import rice is equivalent to what we can collect from value-added tax (VAT) on fuel this year.
“Taxes collected on the gas pump will just be swapped for rice. The rise in the world prices of rice, which translates into bigger corporate subsidy for NFA, was never factored in this year’s expenditures,” he said.
As a result, the plan to have a balance budget this year “is in peril,” Escudero warned.
“It’s either a balanced budget or a balanced diet. In this clash of policies, I predict the ‘politics of the stomach’ to win hands down.”
Faced by a growing population, global tight supply, and low productivity, the Philippines, the world’s biggest rice importer, is scrounging for crumbs left in the world rice market to avert a shortage.
With rice stocks at their lowest in the past 20 years, Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan challenged Malacañang to “stop painting a rosy picture of the situation” and immediately institute long-term solutions to the looming rice crisis.
“Malacañang asserts confidence in the current situation because the Philippines is supposedly reliant only on 15 percent rice imports, and is 85 percent self-sufficient on local rice production. But if these rice-exporting countries do not plan to supply us in the next six months due to shortage in their own supplies, how do we plan to boost our production? How do we ensure that Filipinos will have adequate rice supply as the rest of the world battles with the shortage,” he asked.
Senate President Manuel Villar Jr., for his part, said the looming rice crisis brings to fore the needed reforms that have to be implemented in the agriculture sector, including the system giving the NFA the sole responsibility to import rice into the country.
“This exclusivity clause that authorizes only the NFA to import rice has to be repealed. Attended by allegations of corruption, the system no longer works and has to be reformed to include other sectors of society,” he stressed.
In filing Senate Bill 1897, Villar said the authority of importing rice should be given to farmer cooperatives and organizations as “a way to increase their income.”
“The farming sector has always been at the receiving end of any importation as this tends to dampen or lower the price of palay resulting in no or low income for our farmers. If their collective organization is given the privilege of doing rice importation, they are given an opportunity to earn additional income,” he added.
The measure also proposes to put NFA funds to use only in purchasing locally produced palay or farmer imports for food security requirements of the country, he added.
Rice imports biggest in 10 years
THE government plans to import up to 2.2 million tons of rice for this year in what could be the biggest overseas purchase of the national staple in a decade.
Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap yesterday said the government was looking to buy 1.8 million tons to 2.2 million tons of rice for this year, up from an earlier 1.6-1.8 million tons as it tries to secure supplies amid soaring prices.
Prices of commercial rice range from P26 to P33 a kilo. Rice from the National Food Authority sells for P18.25 a kilo.
"This will all be very sufficient for the NFA to ensure that there will be food security in the coming months, especially the lean months," Yap said, after signing a supply agreement with Vietnam on the sidelines of the Philippine Development Forum.
"I'm not worried about 2008; we're going to have the supply. I'm worried about 2009," he added.
The supply agreement signed by Yap and Vietnamese Industry Minister Yu Huy Hoang specified up to 1.5 million tons, but Hanoi has previously said it could only guarantee Manila 1 million tons of rice this year.
The government has already imported about 700,000-800,000 tons of Vietnamese rice this year.
The agreement's framework is valid for three years and would be automatically renewed for another three years unless either country objected.
Yap said under the agreement, the Vietnamese government agrees to sell, "unless under circumstances of natural disaster and harvest loss, and the Philippines agrees to buy, up to 1.5 million metric tons of Vietnamese white rice annually starting year 2008, subject to market and production conditions and to terms allowable under applicable laws of both countries."
"We'll try to sell to the Philippines as much as we can," said Ambassador Xu Xuan Pruong.
Yap said the Vietnamese commitment will be complemented by the move of the United States' Department of Agriculture to increase the Philippines' credit commodity program from $65 million to $75 million this year, which he said will pave the way for an additional 100,000 tons of US rice.
The Philippines was one of the world's top importers of rice last year, with purchases of nearly 1.9 million tons, almost three-quarters of which came from Vietnam. It imported 2.4 million tons of rice in 1998 during the Asian financial crisis.
So far, the government has bought about 1.2 million tons of rice for this year and aims to increase domestic production of unmilled rice to a record 17.32 million tons, up 7 percent from last year.
MORE RICE LANDS
Yap said for next year he was going to increase the amount of land devoted to rice production. But even with rising local harvests, the output is not enough to keep up with a rapidly expanding population of three babies born every minute.
The soaring cost of rice has also helped push annual inflation to a 16-month high of 5.4 percent and put a real strain on the poor, who make up the bulk of the Philippines' 90 million people and rely on the grain to survive.
President Arroyo has taken a personal interest in the country's rice supplies for fear a shortage in-between harvests in the third quarter could spell political trouble for her
P50 A KILO
Several Luzon-based rice farmers groups warned that rice could reach P40 to P50 a kilo in July because of trading manipulations.
The groups said the expected palay harvest next month, pegged at 1.9 million metric tons, will last for only two months.
Jimmy Tadeo, chairman of the National Rice Farmers Council, said traders would "definitely take advantage of the limited supply while the government will be dependent on the imported rice for its buffer stock."
Jessica Reyes-Cantos, lead convenor of the Rice Watch and Action Network (R1), said reports of tightening global supply of rice have pushed local prices "abnormally high even as the harvest season is still headed for its peak this April."
The groups noted that traders buy palay at P12 to 16 per kilo while the NFA is still buying the grain at P10 per kilo.
"With this lopsided participation of NFA, we will not be surprised if the traders who bring the rice to the market are able to command the prices of this basic commodity and will be able to set the prices when the supply further tightens in July to September," said Trinidad Domingo, chairwoman of the Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan and a rice farmer from Nueva Ecija.
Tadeo said government was not even able to help the farmers cope with the rising cost of petroleum-based farm inputs and even has promoted chemical farming instead of training farmers to be more self-reliant and go organic to reduce their production cost.
"We are calling on the farmers to hold on to their palay and leave some for their household consumption so they will not buy rice for their own needs especially in the coming months when the prices will be more unbearable for them," said Tadeo.
Sen. Francis Escudero said government spending for imported rice to prevent a shortage would reach P58.7 billion this year, P21.7 billion of which would be in foregone subsidy.
Escudero explained that if the imported rice costs around P29.40 a kilo and will be sold by NFA retailers at P18.50 per kilo, the P10.90 per kilo difference will be the "political premium" the Arroyo administration will have to pay to offset the perceived lack of rice.
Government paid $707 per ton for the 335,000 metric tons it bought this month. This means the 2 million metric tons government plans to bring in this year will cost P58.7 billion, based on a P41.50 to $1 exchange, which is still higher than the official forex forecast, he said.
Of this amount only P37 billion can be recouped, "assuming completely zero trading, storage and transport losses," Escudero said.
The estimated import price tag, Escudero said, assumes no tax or duty paid, which is 40 percent of imported value under the country's WTO commitments, a rate which, however, can be waived if food shortage is invoked.
EQUIVALENT TO VAT
Escudero estimated that the P58.7 billion required to import rice is equivalent to what government can collect from the value-added tax (VAT) on fuel this year.
"To give you an idea how big it is, it's bigger than the budget of the AFP or the PNP, and five times the allocation for DOH," he said.
"Taxes collected at the gas pump will just be swapped for rice. The rise in the world prices of rice, which translates into bigger corporate subsidy for NFA, was never factored in this year's expenditures," he said.
As a result, the plan to have a balanced budget this year "is in peril," he said.
"It's either a balanced budget or a balanced diet. In this clash of policies, I predict the 'politics of the stomach' to win hands down," he added.
|March 28th, 2008, 08:13 AM||#205|
Join Date: Oct 2005
Likes (Received): 3
Arroyo's HK visit to cost taxpayers at least P2-M
03/27/2008 | 10:07 PM
MANILA, Philippines - While surveys show that more Filipino families are experiencing hunger, President Gloria Mapacagal Arroyo is “squandering" about P2 million “to spew out lies and project false support of overseas Filipinos to her crumbling administration" when she goes to Hong Kong on Sunday.
“Isn’t this shameless and callous," asked Eman Villanueva, spokesperson of the Gloria Step down Movement – Hong Kong (GSM-HK) during a picket rally at the Philippine Consulate General on Thursday.
The group has been calling on Filipinos in Hong Kong to boycott the events Mrs. Arroyo is attending, particularly her meeting with the Filipino community at Tiffin Lounge of the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
Villanueva said Arroyo’s visit was a “squander of people’s money" in the face of a rice shortage in the Philippines.
“We are made destitute by this government with its rampant corruption of public resources. Distressed overseas Filipinos are left to fend for themselves. Now we will starve to death while GMA comes here wasting about half a million HK dollars to try to fool OFWs and entice us to bleed more money for her self-serving purpose," he said in a statement on Thursday.
GSM-HK estimated that the cost of GMA’s appearance before OFWs at the plush Grand Hyatt Hotel on Sunday, March 30, will reach about P1 million while another million will be spent for the three-day expenses of the presidential entourage.
Villanueva said the government even sent in advance personnel from the Office of External Affairs under the Office of the President just to check the preparations for the Sunday event.
Based on their inquiry at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, the cost of the hotel’s facilities are the following: Tiffin Lounge where Arroyo will meet OFWs – HK$450 (P2,550) per head or HK$90,000 (P450,000) for a maximum of 200 people; reservation for the function room for 160 people – HK$140,000 (P700,000) while dining is at HK$1,100 (P5,500) per head.
The group estimated that Arroyo’s stay in HK, based on going rate for posh hotels, at HK$15,000 (P75,000), her entourage of at least 30 people will need about HK$180,000 (P900,000) at a rate of HK$2,000 per person each day.
Villanueva said the cost estimates may even be conservative considering Arroyo’s “penchant for lavish traveling."
“With the rice shortage, recent oil price hike, and the general economic crisis, only a president that has complete disregard of the people’s plight can spend P2 million with wanton abandon," Villanueva said.
Villanueva reported that the news of serious rice shortage in the country and the increase in prices of rice is a grave concern for overseas Filipinos who are the main breadwinners of their families.
“We are already contending with low wages and the continuing slide of the dollar. The rice shortage will further impinge on our already tight budget. When will the Arroyo government stop heaving one calamity after another to us?" he said.
GSM-HK said its members will not duped into accepting the offer of the government to buy stocks or invest in order to cope with the current economic crisis.
“Our remittance and the payments we give to government fees are already being plundered or are used to replace money stolen from other public sources. We will not let GMA touch our hard-earned money that is barely enough to sustain the basic needs of our families," he stated.
Villanueva criticized the Philippine consulate general in Hong Kong for its “preparation frenzy to make GMA happy."
“It is condemnable for the PCG-HK to pool resources and manpower for the useless meeting with GMA while they cannot even find time and effort to answer the repeated requests of OFW groups here for a Leader’s Forum to discuss pressing concerns. Like GMA, government officials here have revealed their true priorities and these are definitely not our rights and wellbeing," he said
Villanueva said the rice crisis will surely fire up the outrage of overseas Filipinos reeling from economic hardships and the neglect and irresponsibility of the government. He said that they will intensify their campaign to urge OFWs to join the March 30 rally.
“Now it is even clearer that GMA’s continued rule and corruption shall spell death for us. This time, by hunger," he said. – GMANews
|March 29th, 2008, 10:14 AM||#206|
Atenista sa Frisco
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: San Andreas Fault
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Govt to boost asset sales to fund higher spending
THE Philippines may sell more assets than planned or increase domestic borrowing to finance additional spending, an official said yesterday.
“The focus today is on targeted spending on social services and infrastructure,” Finance Secretary Gary Teves told reporters in Clark, Pampanga.
He did not say why the government needed to spend more, but Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya said on Wednesday more spending was needed to sustain economic growth.
He said the government might miss its goal of balancing its budget this year to boost growth amid the US slowdown, and to increase farm production to counter rising food prices.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific says the Philippine economy is poised to grow 6.7 percent this year despite the US recession.
It says that growth—marginally down from 7.3 percent in 2007—will be supported by strong domestic demand, investment and government consumption.
“The Philippines is expected to see robust private consumption as a result of booming remittances,” the UN agency said in its Economic Survey for Asia and the Pacific 2008.
It says the Philippines’ 6.7-percent expansion will be faster than Indonesia’s 6.2 percent, Malaysia’s 5.8 percent, Singapore’s 4.9 percent, and Vietnam’s 4.9 percent.
But it will be slower than Vietnam’s 8.2 percent growth, China’s 10.7 percent, and India’s 9.0 percent.
Another UN agency says rapid urbanization in Asia and the Pacific has driven up poverty in many countries including the Philippines.
An increase in urbanization aids growth but it also pushes up urban poverty, says the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
It says the year 2008 represents a turning point in human geography because, for the first time in history, there are more people living in cities than in rural areas.
“This growth in Asia and the Pacific is having a knock-on effect,” said Pietro Gennari, head of the agency’s Statistics Division.
“We’re seeing more and more people living in slums and also a negative effect on people’s ability to access clean water and sanitation in the urban areas.”
Gennari says two out of five urban dwellers in Asia and the Pacific live in slums compared with three out of five in Africa—although this is notably higher than the 33-percent prevailing in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“This urbanization and the increase in the number of people living in slums are largely responsible for a decrease in urban access to improved water sources in Asia and the Pacific since 1990,” Gennari said.
“Countries with high access rates in the 1990s, such as China, Indonesia and the Philippines, have all recorded a fall in the proportion of the urban population with access to improved sources of water.”
|April 1st, 2008, 10:38 PM||#207|
Atenista sa Frisco
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: San Andreas Fault
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Still waiting for 'trickle-down,' 'social payback'
BY REGINA BENGCO
TWO in three Filipinos (66 percent) yesterday said the economy worsened in the last three years, Pulse Asia said in its Feb. 21-March 8 survey.
The survey had 1,200 respondents.
Seventy-one percent or about 12.8 million families said they are very poor/poor. It was the same level in July and October 2007 (75 percent and 68 percent, respectively).
Nearly six in 10 Filipinos (59 percent) said their personal quality of life worsened in the past year, a sentiment expressed by 48 to 68 percent of respondents in all geographic areas and socio-economic classes.
Only 10 percent said their lives are better off while 31 percent said there was no change in the past 12 months.
On the national quality of life, 71 percent believe that the lives of their countrymen became worse in the past 12 months, a view shared by 65 percent in Luzon to 81 percent in Mindanao.
Only 6 percent believe that the national quality of life improved while 23 percent said it was unchanged.
Only 11 percent said the economy is better now than in 2005 while 23 percent said it was the same.
Deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez said the survey results were negative because it was conducted while government was in the middle of corruption allegations.
He said government has been increasing its spending on basic services and infrastructure. "We expect to see a decline of our poverty rate with more people experiencing the fruits of our economic growth in the months and years to come," he said.
Cerge Remonde, Presidential Management Staff director general, said it "always takes time" for the benefits of economic growth to reach the masses, which is why it should be sustained.
|April 3rd, 2008, 04:31 AM||#208|
Raid the Hoarders of Rice & Basic Food Commodities
The basic food commodities are shackled inside the warehouses of these traders and businessmen. Pinoy huwag kayo magpadaya sa mga traders na yan. Bulsa at sikmura na ninyo ang binubutas nila. Gusto lang nila pataasin ang presyo ng bilihin sa pamamagitan ng pagtago sa mga ito para ipalabas na may shortage.
The truth is there is no real rice shortage. The traders and businessmen just want to create panic to drastically increase the cost of rice and other basic food commodities
Naka tambak ang mga bigas, harina, mais, oil, at iba pang pagkain sa mga warehouse ng mga negosyante na mga buwaya.
Dapat inspeksyonin ang bawat isang warehouse na nangdadamot sa pagkain. Pati yung supply ng NHA inaangkin na nila.
|April 3rd, 2008, 04:44 AM||#209|
Cops grill vice-gov's kin for NFA rice at QC warehouse
Police authorities raided another Quezon City warehouse suspected of hoarding government rice and questioned a relative of a Luzon vice-governor for the presence of grains from the National Food Authority being repacked there.
The raid in Vista Real Subdivision followed the operation on a warehouse in Muñoz district earlier where police seized 10,000 sacks of NFA rice.
This time, however, a brother of Pangasinan Vice-Governor Marlyn Primicias Agabas was identified as suspect after police found several empty sacks of NFA rice at the warehouse.
NFA representatives collected samples from the rice in stock to check if they were products of illegal packaging.
The warehouse in Vista Real is owned by Roger Agabas.
The suspect, however, denied any wrongdoing.
"What you see here is legal. I you want, I have a store, you can check it out. I sell NFA rice there," he said.
Police earlier seized more than 10,000 sacks of rice from a warehouse in Parkway Village in Quezon City owned by a Chinese-Filipino couple believed to be engaged in hoarding grains.
Warehouse owners Jerry and Margaret Cua were also suspected of repacking rice from the NFA which are then allegedly sold at commercial prices.
The Cuas denied the accusation.
"The sacks were bought to be used for palay,” said Jerry.
Aside from illegally repacking NFA rice, the couple could face hoarding charges for the bulk of grains they have been keeping.
The raids followed orders on police to arrest rice hoarders and illegal traders as the country struggles to cope with rising prices of the key food staple.
Police will be deployed to warehouses owned by the NFA, the state rice-importing agency, to prevent any pilfering by rogue traders.
The move is aimed at pre-empting the "impact on peace and order of price rises not only in rice but other basic commodities," police said.
President Arroyo this week said she will negotiate for more rice shipments from Thailand and other neighboring countries to avert a possible supply crisis during the lean months from July to September.
Analysts and farmer groups have said traders hoarding the grain could also force the retail price of the grain to artificially rise. With a report from Agence France-Presse
|April 3rd, 2008, 04:52 AM||#210|
Task force vs rice hoarders formed
By Joel R. San Juan and Rene Acosta
THE Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday created its own Anti-Rice Hoarding Task Force (ARHTF) to assist the National Food Authority (NFA) in going after rice hoarders and those engaged in overpricing and other related crimes.
Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez named Senior State Prosecutor Roberto Lao as chairman of the task force, with prosecuting attorney Rhodora Salazar, state prosecutors Nestor Lazara, Philip de la Cruz and Romeo Galvez as members.
In an interview, Gonzalez said the creation of the task force is in line with the need to speedily institute measures to stop and prevent rice hoarding and related crimes, which can be considered acts of economic sabotage.
He said the task force would handle inquest proceedings, preliminary investigation and prosecution of all cases relating to unlawful acts or omissions inimical to the preservation and protection of the country’s rice supply under Section 29 of Presidential Decree 4, as amended, as well as the provision of other penal statutes and related laws.”
The Justice secretary said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) would render the appropriate resource and groundwork assistance to the ARHTF.
“The ARHTF is, likewise, hereby authorized to directly coordinate and seek the assistance of other law enforcement and administrative agencies for purposes of facilitating the investigation, resolution and prosecution of such cases,” the memorandum stated.
Gonzalez has already directed the task force to verify reports whether the NFA in Central Visayas has suspended the rice allocation of 21 accredited retailers in Cebu province which were found to have committed violations in the distribution and sale of government rice, such as overpricing, unreasonable depletion of stocks, nondisplay and refusal to sell stocks to consumers.
The DOJ chief also asked the ARHTF to summon personalities involved in the raid at the Inter-City Industrial Estate in Bocaue, Bulacan, which houses 115 warehouses, each containing 25,000 to 40,000 sacks of rice.
The area purportedly supplies 65 percent of the country’s rice demand.
Meanwhile, Gonzalez brushed off claims made by leftist groups claiming that the government is the one hoarding the country’s rice supply.
“Why would the government hoard when we are buying 1.5 million metric tons of rice from Vietnam and negotiating with Thailand to buy more?” Gonzalez added.
Also to ensure that rice supplies would reach their target clients without delay, Gonzalez said that the Army, through the orders of the Department of National Defense, has already agreed to lend to the NFA some 200 trucks to assist and facilitate delivery.
At the same time, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has alerted all its police regional offices and national support units to go after rice hoarders and illegal traders who are diverting government-subsidized rice to commercial markets.
In a memorandum circulated to all PNP units, Chief Superintendent Silverio Alarcio Jr., PNP director for operations, said police action is being initiated “to preempt the possible impact on peace and order of the increase in prices of rice and other basic commodities.”
Alarcio ordered regional directors to closely coordinate with the local offices of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Agriculture (DA), the NFA and local government units in monitoring the prices of basic commodities, especially rice and other food products.
The PNP units were instructed to arrest and investigate individuals who are engaged in unauthorized remilling of rice and the rebagging of NFA grain products.
Police units will also provide security to rice-storage facilities, government food warehouses and NFA-accredited rice warehouses against possible pilferage, and to prevent NFA rice from being diverted to the commercial market by unscrupulous traders.
“If it is necessary that we should tail all trucks hauling NFA rice to ensure that the cargo does not end up in illegal warehouses, we will do that and hit hard on the hoarders who are causing this artificial crisis,” Alarcio said.
The DTI attributes the “artificial shortage” and rising prices of commercial rice to high fuel prices, lower production due to global warming, rising demand due to over population and the 150-percent increase in the price of fertilizers.
PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Nicanor Bartolome, said “the PNP is doing its share in normalizing the market situation and possibly mitigating the effects of rising prices of rice and other basic commodities.”
“The PNP fully supports the inter-agency campaign initiated by the DTI, DA, NFA, Neda [National Economic and Development Authority], and the National Price Coordinating Council to stabilize food prices,” he said.
|April 3rd, 2008, 05:17 AM||#211|
The West is controlling your rice price
Go to the Internet and google on “world rice shortage.” Most of the web sites carrying information about a shortage of rice is from our own local newspapers. However, a potential shortage of reasonably priced price is affecting communities from “Kansas to Kabul,” as one newspaper in Bangladesh described the problem.
Quoting from Asia News Network, the web site independent-bangladesh.com perhaps summarized the cause of the problem the best: “Worldwide, economists are worried that the diversion of agricultural land and certain crops to biofuel production is cutting into grain and cereal production for human consumption. The prices of rice and wheat are linked.” That last sentence is the key to the issue, something our local politicians have failed to understand.
Wheat prices are going to historic highs and will continue to climb. The best barometer of future commodity prices is the futures exchanges in the United States. There, the contract price for December 2008 delivery is higher than the current March 2008 price, forecasting rising prices through the end of the year.
And if wheat prices are to continue going up, then you can be sure that rice prices will track the wheat price trend.
I wrote in this column that one of the reasons we are not able to produce enough rice in the Philippines is government interference in the free-market system that would have allowed farmers to sell rice at a high enough price to invest in agricultural infrastructure.
While there is still a large group of people that believes the government is the answer to all problems, in fact, the government usually creates the problems that private enterprise must solve. Thirty years of government intervention in rice production has not solved the production problem.
National governments did not build the rail systems of Europe and the United States in the 1800s; private companies did. The Philippine government gave the nation the Philippine National Railway. Any chance that private enterprise might have done a better job? Globe, Smart and Sun put phones in 20 million Filipinos’ hands, not Malacañang or Congress.
And the interference of the US and European governments in the free market is what will drive rice prices up in the Philippines.
From the Environmental News Service: “The world is facing the most severe food-price inflation in history as grain and soybean prices climb to all-time highs. Wheat trading on the Chicago Board of Trade on December 17th breached the $10-per-bushel level for the first time ever. In mid-January, corn was trading over $5 per bushel, close to its historic high. And on January 11th, soybeans traded at $13.42 per bushel, the highest price ever recorded. All these prices are double those of a year or two ago. In Mexico, corn-meal prices are up 60 percent. In Pakistan, flour prices have doubled. China is facing rampant food price inflation, some of the worst in decades.” Why? At least “28 percent of the projected 2008 US grain harvest” will be used, not for food, but for fuel, biofuels.
If you subscribe to all the environmental hysteria, you might think that using biofuels is a good thing. But consider the consequences. “Projections by Profs. C. Ford Runge and Benjamin Senauer of the University of Minnesota four years ago showed the number of hungry and malnourished people decreasing from over 800 million to 625 million by 2025. But in early 2007, their update of these projections, taking into account the biofuels effect on world food prices, showed the number of hungry people climbing to 1.2 billion by 2025. That climb is already under way. The UN World Food Program (WFP), which is now supplying emergency food aid to 37 countries, is cutting shipments as prices soar. Whereas previous dramatic rises in world grain prices were weather-induced, this one is policy-induced.”
The reason for the dramatic rise in grain prices is government intervention. In an attempt to reduce the use of crude oil coming primarily from the Middle East, Western governments mandated the use of biofuels, savagely interfering in the free market. But these governments took one more disastrous step toward food scarcity. They subsidize the noncompetitive price of ethanol-based fuel. Because of government subsidies for biofuels production, corn farmers in the United States and in other countries can make more and more profits as the price of oil goes up.
We may think of rice as rice, meaning that rice prices live in a world of their own, controlled by the dastardly rice cartels and smugglers. Prices of basic food commodities are all connected. The free market allows adjustment in all countries.
In India, wheat and rice are almost equally important in the diet. Yet, because of rising wheat prices, Indians are eating more rice leading to higher prices. And the fact is the price of wheat, as with corn, is artificially high because of the artificial demand created by bad government policy.
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|April 3rd, 2008, 05:39 AM||#212|
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Philippines Trails In Poverty Reduction, Says Un Report
By Chino S. Leyco Reporter
Social and economic development in the Philippines remains uneven and poverty continues to be characterized by widespread disparities across regions and population groups, a recent United Nations country team report said.
The report was presented last week to the Philippine Development Forum in Clark, Pampanga.
Compared with other East Asian and Southeast Asian neighbors, the report said, poverty reduction in the country has lagged far behind that of Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and China—countries that started with higher levels of poverty incidence than the Philippines but have successfully managed to lessen, if not virtually eliminate, extreme poverty.
According to the country team report, there were 27.6 million poor Filipinos in 2006, a 3.8-million increase from the 2003 data. Government statistics showed that the country’s population stood at 86 million as of 2007.
The highest poverty incidences, estimated at four times that of Metro Manila and accounting for one-third of the country’s total poor, are found in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Min*danao (ARMM), Bicol, Eastern Visayas and Western Mindanao.
“Poverty continues to be a rural phenomenon,” the UN report said. It added that two out of every three Filipinos live in rural areas and are dependent on agriculture.
“Poverty incidence among agricultural communities is roughly three times that of the rest of the population and the sector accounts for 60 percent of total poverty,” the country team report said.
Because of rural poverty, the report added, migration to urban areas has made the Philippines the fastest urbanizing country in Southeast Asia, with 55 million of its 86-million population, or 64 percent, living in urban areas. Thirty percent of the 64 percent live in slums.
As rural poverty incidence remains higher in absolute terms, the UN report said, urban poverty incidence increased from 17.9 percent in 1997 to 24.9 percent in 2003. Rural poverty incidence declined from 44.4 percent to 35.3 percent during the same period.
|April 3rd, 2008, 10:30 AM||#213|
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Rice shortage might be a problem if the government did not focus on it as early as now. Fortunately, the government is already addressing the issue before it becomes a burden to all of us. We can see a lot of retailer trucks all over the country selling kilos of rice for the consumption of the public.
Of course, the hoarders of rice supply should be apprehended. Our national staple should not be manipulated by some who wanted to profit more than they should have. It's really pitiful that others have to engage in such illegal acts.
|April 3rd, 2008, 01:54 PM||#214|
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The issue of rice shortage is just being used by politicians and media to incite public unrest. Of course, this is also a very advantageous scenario for unscrupulous traders.
Is there really a rice crisis? Can the situation now prevailing accurately be described as one of crisis proportions as far as the national staple is concerned?
Everyone knows what rice, the food of all Filipinos, is. As for “crisis,” my online Merriam-Webster defines it as “an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending; especially one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome.”
Make no mistake, there is no crisis as far as supply is concerned, at least for as far as the so-called premium varieties that continue to be readily available in all markets and that most people consume. What exists is a regime of rising prices, which has translated to a steady increase in the per kilo cost by an average of about 30 percent over the past year.
Thus, a kilo of rice that you used to buy for around P24 per kilo would now be worth around P28 to P30. Most authorities agree that the price increases are the result of spikes in the world market for this commodity, of which almost 20 percent of the total local supply (2 million tons of the total 12 million consumed annually) has to be imported because of the inability of our rice farmers to produce enough to feed the populace.
Because we are a net importer of rice, we are to a certain extent affected by the fluctuations of world prices of this commodity. Over the past year that we have seen local prices of the staple rise, prices abroad have increased from around $300 to $700 per metric ton. (In 2003, the price per metric ton in the world market was a mere $200.)
With shipping costs rising with oil prices and other factors like inclement weather, increased world demand and shrinking harvests coming into play, there’s even talk of rice nearing the $1,000 per metric ton level soon. That’s something like P40 per kilo for rice imported from Vietnam, Thailand and the other countries where the government sources our rice.
But why do we have to keep importing rice to begin with, especially since government agriculture authorities have been talking non-stop about increasing harvests in the countryside? Can’t self-sufficiency in this vital and politically charged commodity be achieved?
The short answer to first question is: Population growth is far outstripping gains in rice harvests. According to “101 Facts About Rice in the Philippines” compiled by V. Bruce J. Tolentino, Beulah de la Pena, Elcee Noveno, Benedicto Rayco and Irene Villapando, rice production in the past decade grew only by 1.9 percent annually on average, while population increased at a rate of 2.3 percent. In the next 25 years, the requirement for rice is expected to increase by at least 65 percent, according to the authors, which will make our dependence on imports even greater, unless yield improves dramatically.
Fortunately, and to answer the second question, even if population continues to increase at current levels, there is a lot of hope for harvests eventually catching up. Right now, most experts agree that last year’s gross production increase of 6.2 percent can continue, with most of the lands planted to rice now producing only an estimated one-fourth of maximum output.
The same experts agree that if only a fraction of the money used to subsidize rice through the purchases of the National Food Authority is spent to provide farmers with high-yield hybrid rice seedlings and other farm inputs at subsidized prices, self-sufficiency in rice can be achieved in the next couple of years, easily. That would dramatically reduce our dependence on imports that are expected to get more and more expensive because of increasing demand worldwide.
* * *
As far as the NFA is concerned, the government would do well to look into anomalies that have long been plaguing that agency. Over the years, the unavailability of the supposedly cheap rice bought and sold by the NFA has reached mythic proportions, despite the billions upon billions that the government is spending annually to subsidize the staple and to sell it at around P18 per kilo.
If it takes a so-called rice crisis to get the authorities to take a microscope to the operations of the NFA, then all of the hand-wringing will have been worthwhile. For the longest time, assuming people really wanted to find it, there just isn’t any NFA rice to be had for love or money; what passes for cheap rice in the markets is often unedible, as anyone who goes shopping for food will tell you.
What all this means is a total breakdown in the NFA’s procurement process, or the sale of rice bought cheaply with government (meaning taxpayer’s) money to dealers who pass it off as “premium” varieties. The hopelessly corrupted “passbook” system for rice dealers, which tracks regular withdrawals of NFA rice from government warehouses and the unavailability of these cheap stocks in the markets only means that they are being resold and repackaged as higher varieties by unscrupulous traders, most likely in connivance with employees and officials of the NFA itself.
Of course, the government is now going after the so-called rice cartels that have been long involved in this anomalous practice by investigating the NFA’s operations. Simultaneous moves to do away with the passbook system altogether and to sell one-kilo packages of NFA rice directly to consumers will also probably help cut down on the reselling of the government-subsidized commodity as expensive, regular varieties.
In the meantime, the recent securing of imports from countries like Vietnam (which has given a firm commitment to the Philippines to sell 1 million metric tons of rice immediately) will help stabilize local prices—which do have an unfortunate tendency of remaining at current levels even when the supply situation eases. All of which should prod the government to push for the use of subsidized high-yield hybrid varieties and more farm inputs and more and better irrigation facilities for the farmers, with the view of securing sufficiency in rice—and lower prices—in the long-term.
Given the issues involved in the production, pricing and procurement of rice, it’s interesting to note how some politicians have been riding the issue to score points against the Arroyo government—which didn’t invent the decades-old rice problem and which has done creditably well in trying to solve it, overall. But the attempts of the anti-Arroyos to use rice (a sensitive issue that hits a lot closer to home than things like a national broadband network) as a political battering ram are understandable.
These are the people who will attempt to fabricate any “an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs” to pursue the “decisive change” that they want, to return to the definition of a crisis. It doesn’t matter what the issue is: If it is “one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome” that they desire, they will exploit it.
What we have can hardly be called a rice crisis. It’s just another attempt—futile, in all likelihood—to force a political crisis.
|April 4th, 2008, 06:25 AM||#215|
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Friday, April 04, 2008
Rice hoarders facelife sentence–DOJ
Warehouse owners and traders in the Philippines found to be hoarding rice will be charged with “economic sabotage, which carries a life sentence, or plunder,” Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said Thursday.
Plunder was punishable by death until President Gloria Arroyo outlawed capital punishment a few years ago.
The government, Gonzalez warned, could even file plunder charges against traders engaged in rice hoarding.
“If the amount [made from hoarding] reaches P50 million, it could be plunder [charges that are awaiting the hoarders]. Take the case of 11 warehouses in Bulacan [a province north of Manila where] each warehouse has 40 tons of rice. That’s why I told my panel to look into this again if there are public officials involved,” he said.
Gonzalez added that government agents had started swooping down on illegal rice traders in the central city of Cebu and that 111 other traders in Luzon, the country’s biggest group of islands, were also on his list.
Evidence was being gathered against unscrupulous traders, who also will be charged with economic sabotage.
“Our first initiative is to ask for the help of Filipinos who can give us information, because we are not here to witch-hunt,” Gonzalez told reporters.
He said he had ordered agents from the National Bureau of Investigation to “be very rigid in looking” for evidence.
President Gloria Arroyo had ordered the raids to help avert a rice shortage, the staple food for the country’s 86 million people, which could trigger social unrest.
She has also ordered huge imports of rice from neighboring countries such as Vietnam and Thailand, and cancelled permits to rice dealers reselling state-subsidized rice to avoid artificial price increases.
The moves angered rice dealers and distributors, who have threatened to stop selling rice across the archipelago.
Gonzalez said only rice hoarders were being targeted, and that traders and warehouse owners found to be “legit need not fear.”
“This is an emergency situation, [and] they should understand,” he added.
The President further ordered state universities and colleges to make their gymnasiums available for rice storing and prepare their vacant lands for palay demonstration farming.
She ordered, too, the Armed Forces to help deliver rice to far-flung and depressed areas by using their available cargo planes and trucks.
The Armed Forces will be fielding 400 trucks to take over from truckers complaining of delivery difficulties due to high costs, Gonzalez said.
“If we were using Army trucks, soldiers will no longer stop the truckers at checkpoints and will not pay fees or bribes to policemen manning the checkpoints. For instance, if the products come from Isabela [a province north of Manila], truckers complain that they have to incur heavy costs,” he added.
Gonzalez said they are already asking the help of Chinese-Filipino businessmen to prevent rice hoarding and go after unscrupulous traders.
“We are also trying to protect their interests [Tsinoy businessmen], so they should help us. In so far as the businessmen [are concerned], there’s no directive,” he added. “That is addressed to NFA [National Food Authority] and Department of Agriculture. My directive is prosecute, investigate and prosecute those hoarders.”
The government has not set any deadline and will continue its campaign against illegal trade until the prices of rice stabilize, Gonzalez said.
“This [campaign] is a continuing thing. We cannot have a deadline until prices of commodities stabilize. There are many factors in prices rising. Not because of hoarding, always, some because of inadequacies of farm-to-market roads, and the involvement of middle men who control prices,” he added.
Gonzalez appealed to traders and distributors, whose licenses were cancelled, not to proceed with their planned rice holiday.
“That is just temporarily [the cancellation] because the government wants to make sure that no licenses would be abused. That’s the situation now, and we hope they will understand that,” he said. The traders and distributors, instead of holding the holiday, Gonzalez added, should cooperate with the government.
He assured the public of enough rice supply.
“As of this point, there is no danger that we will lack rice. What we need is buffer good for three months. Right now, 57 days, there’s no danger. There will be harvest in May and lean months will come in June, July, and August,” Gonzalez said.
Rice is a politically sensitive commodity in the Philippines, one of the world’s largest importers of the grain, which households consume three times a day on average.
--Angelo S. Samonte, Ira Karen Apanay and AFP
" If we don't take care of nature, nature won't take care of us"
|April 4th, 2008, 06:38 AM||#216|
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Brother clears Pangasinan vice gov's name over rice hoarding
04/04/2008 | 09:54 AM
DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines - A rice trader and brother of Pangasinan Vice Governor Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, called up the different local radio stations in the province to clarify the issue that had dragged his sister's name.
Roger Primicias of Scout Balara, Quezon City said the National Food Authority (NFA) did not raid his alleged warehouse as reported last Tuesday in a national television.
Primicias said they came to visit and verify a report, which they received about alleged NFA rice hoarding and repacking in his area.
He said it was also a coincidence that the vice governor and her husband were in Quezon City that time as they came to attend the burial of their grandmother.
He explained that he is an accredited NFA rice retailer, and the reported warehouse does not exist. What was visited by the NFA operatives was his residence where he stacks the commercial rice which cannot be accommodated at his rice store in the market.
He said it was not a raid but a mere visit to verify reports of hoarding or repacking of NFA rice.
"I want to clarify that my sister has nothing to do with this issue. This is my business," he said.
Primicias further said what the NFA personnel saw were seven empty sacks of NFA rice. The sacks of rice stacked at his residence were 80 cavans of commercial rice.
As to the presence of empty sacks of NFA rice, he said he is allowed to buy 25 cavans a week. Sometimes the empty sacks are left at his rice store, while some others he brought home.
He also denied hoarding rice as he said an NFA rice retailer has to personally show up at the NFA warehouse if he is going to buy stocks.
"One cannot buy rice if he does not personally pay and sign the receipt. And he is also escorted if he wants it to be delivered to his own store. If the storeowner is not there, his order will not be discharged. And the unloading of stocks is also monitored by four groups," he said.
Primicias said his sister's name could have been mentioned in the television report because she has a calendar at the place where the sacks of rice were stacked. Sun.Star
|April 4th, 2008, 07:25 AM||#217|
The Great Northwest
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From dinabaw's posted article: Rice hoarders facelife sentence–DOJ
|April 4th, 2008, 07:30 AM||#218|
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Reminds me when two or three years ago, the price of vegetables skyrocketed in Manila because of the sensationalized issue about frost bites in Benguet.
The media plays a critical role here I believe. It's how they deliver the news. The media gave the impression that as if all places in Benguet were affected by frost bites. Yun pala, some barangays lang in Atok and Bugias(due to their high elevation) which are not even major producers of vegetables. The major producer of vegetables is the capitol, La Trinidad which was not affected by frost bites at all.
See, irresponsibe journalism convinces corruption.
|April 4th, 2008, 07:43 AM||#219|
The Great Northwest
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But sometimes the media is just telling some truth, medyo may intriga lang ng konti. But that statement of Gonzales that I posted above had too much information that really says a lot.
|April 4th, 2008, 08:01 AM||#220|
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That's the sad thing "sometimes'. Why can't they do it 'always'(or don't they want to?)?
The public is suffering because of their sensationalism. Just like what happened wit the frost bites issue