PHILSTAR COLUMNS

BAGUIO WILL DIE SOON

By Babe G. Romualdez - Baguio City was one of the most attractive resort cities in the Philippines when the Americans developed it in the 1900s, designed and planned by renowned American architect Daniel Burnham. Sadly, the city – which is set to celebrate its 105th Charter Day anniversary – is fast losing the charm that made it a haven with its cool, pleasant climate. Urban decay and environmental degradation is swallowing up Baguio because of the lack of comprehensive plans and policies for its development. Ironically, the public officials who are supposed to protect Baguio City and preserve its environment seem to be the very ones who are killing one of our most popular tourist attractions, dubbed as the country’s Summer Capital. One example is the case filed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) against Baguio City’s own Rep. Nicasio Aliping Jr. for cutting down more than 700 pine trees to make way for a two-kilometer access road reportedly leading to the politician’s private resort. According to sources at the Cordillera Administrative Region’s Environment Management Bureau, Rep. Aliping did not even secure the mandatory environmental compliance certificate (ECC), neither did he ask for a tree cutting permit – all violations against existing environmental and forestry laws in this country. One resident informed us that last month, they were just surprised to wake up to the fact that 761 pine trees were already cut down in the Sto. Tomas Forest Reserve in Tuba, Benguet. Worse, muddy water was coming out of the faucets of residents. We’re told that government has yet to develop a cleanup plan for the water source in the Sto. Tomas watershed that was reportedly contaminated by the said road project. Residents are certainly furious, saying the congressman probably thought he could just go ahead with the project without securing the necessary permits. Granted that the two-kilometer road was necessary for “development,” permits must still be secured for DENR to assess its impact on the environment, like what one developer did when it decided to expand an existing mall project. During that time, so-called environmental groups even filed an environmental case that was later dismissed by the Baguio Regional Trial Court. If people can still remember, the mall developer did not cut down trees but “earth-balled” them for replanting in another location. In fact, the company is using its own resources to embark on a reforestation project, having donated some 30,000 tree seedlings for several Benguet towns. While private companies and business groups in Baguio are making every effort to comply with environmental laws and requirements, government officials – and a congressman at that, are the very ones who are making the degradation worse – which is totally criminal. *** READ MORE..

ALSO: Poverty, reconstruction and development in Eastern Visayas after Yolanda

By Gerardo P. Sicat --In an earlier column (June 4, 2014), I described my impressions of the Eastern Visayas six months after Typhoon Yolanda’s destructive fury. Today, I look into the reconstruction phase in wider development context. “Samar and Leyte as island bridges of the nation.” Samar and Leyte are the island bridges between the country’s north and the south and the western Visayan islands. They have good land, mineral and aquatic resources and are well populated. These attributes are favorable for agricultural, fishery and industrial potentials. During the 1960s until the mid-1980s, Leyte was an economic leader among the Visayan provinces. This was in part due to strong political connections. Such luck turned upside down after 1986 – People Power time. Leyte, however, is part of the country’s economic chain of strength. Its geothermal resources have been tapped, producing electricity for the national electrical grid. Its coconut, abaca and other produce have contributed toward raising national economic supply. Samar is a different story. The eastern side of the island is linked to the national road network. But the rest of the province has remained relatively backward. “Poverty in Eastern Visayas.” Before Typhoon Yolanda visited, the poverty status was worsening. While the nation’s overall situation has been improving on the average, the region’s poverty incidence worsened from 2006 to 2012. In 2006, it was the 7th poorest, with 41.5 percent of people in poverty; in 2012, its poverty incidence rose to 45.2 percent percent of population, making it the second poorest region in the country.*  READ MORE...

(ALSO) Rising prices: Crisis in the making

By Rey Gamboa  --Inflation figures released by the National Statistics Office for April have shown a much higher level compared to the 3.9 percent posted the previous month. While it’s true that this 4.1-percent increase is still within the projected band of between three to five percent that had been forecasted by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), it should set off some worrying by our government. In recent weeks, prices of food (including rice, pork, beef and vegetables), electricity, and fuel have been rising. It’s been awhile since Filipinos have seen this kind of price instability of so many basic commodities at about the same time. And after having enjoyed a long period of relative stability in inflation rates, one can’t help fear that a bubble is just about to burst. Global trend --The World Bank, too, has expressed concern about rising food prices in the global market which has been attributed to droughts in some parts of the world, political and economic stress in some major food producing countries, and the rising demand by China. In a recent report, the Bank said that world food prices increased by four percent from January to April compared to the same period last year, putting an end to relatively stable food pricing across the globe that started in August 2012. Among the headliners in food products that saw increases were wheat and maize, which were up 18 and 12 percent, respectively, despite the bumper crop harvest last year and projection of higher farm production this year. Both are extensively imported by the Philippines. While the movement of rice in other major rice producing countries have been mixed (increases in Myanmar and Somalia, but decreases in Thailand and Cambodia), the Philippines had shown double-digit percentage price spikes which was attributed to low stock levels. Within the year, the National Food Authority (NFA) is looking at further hikes in domestic rice prices, citing the continued drought experienced in some major rice producing regions of the country and the recent increases in the price of fuel. Other food products affected  * READ MORE...

ALSO: A reply from Secretary Alcala

By Elfren S. Cruz --Last Sunday, I wrote a column entitled “Time to Let Alcala Go.” I was, of course, referring to Agriculture Department Secretary Proceso Alcala. Philippine STAR received a five-page reply from the Secretary which said the intention was to provide “a few facts that may help put your column ...in a better perspective.” The letter is too long to reprint in full in this column. However, in fairness I would like to reprint excerpts that address the major issues I raised in my column. Before I do that, let me first state that I have never met Secretary Alcala. My views were based solely on my critical and logical analysis of his performance the past four years. On the issue of rice self sufficiency here is what he wrote:
“...we improved the country’s rice self sufficiency from 82% to 96% by 2013 using the formula of Food and Agriculture Organization. Of course we set a higher target, but not achieving this cannot be considered serious ineptitude in the light of what we achieved...despite the storms that hit us, particularly Sendong that hit the rice lands of Central Luzon. “
Here is what he wrote on the issue of rice price stability: “You are concerned about consumers who have to pay more for the rice they buy. Please know that the price of NFA rice has remained the same. The well milled rice is bought by other consumers who may not be target consumers. Some Metro Manilans who buy NFA rice are not intended consumers of NFA rice but they deprive the real target groups of supply. For this reason we cooperate with DSWD to improve targeting.”
Here is what he wrote on the NFA: “The NFA reform agenda has been submitted to the economic managers. Decisions need to be made...I regret that you take off from the assumption that the NFA is corrupt. While I cannot guarantee that it is now 100% corruption free, I need you to know that over the last 17 months, the NFA has had the least graft-ridden operation in many, many years. Here is what he wrote on Secretary Pangilinan. “I respect your opinion, Mr. Cruz, if you sincerely believe that Sec. Pangilinan can do a good job not only in the four agencies transferred to the Office of the President but to run the entire Department of Agriculture. However, I believe this decision belongs to the President, who I fully trust has a more complete assessment of the results on the ground and who respects the farmers and fishers whom we have served in the last four years.” Alcala also wrote on irrigation, coconut infestation and the garlic issue which I will print in a future column. *** READ MORE


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Baguio will die soon

MANILA, JUNE 30, 2014 (PHILSTAR) SPYBITS By Babe G. Romualdez - Baguio City was one of the most attractive resort cities in the Philippines when the Americans developed it in the 1900s, designed and planned by renowned American architect Daniel Burnham.

Sadly, the city – which is set to celebrate its 105th Charter Day anniversary – is fast losing the charm that made it a haven with its cool, pleasant climate. Urban decay and environmental degradation is swallowing up Baguio because of the lack of comprehensive plans and policies for its development.

Ironically, the public officials who are supposed to protect Baguio City and preserve its environment seem to be the very ones who are killing one of our most popular tourist attractions, dubbed as the country’s Summer Capital.

One example is the case filed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) against Baguio City’s own Rep. Nicasio Aliping Jr. for cutting down more than 700 pine trees to make way for a two-kilometer access road reportedly leading to the politician’s private resort.

According to sources at the Cordillera Administrative Region’s Environment Management Bureau, Rep. Aliping did not even secure the mandatory environmental compliance certificate (ECC), neither did he ask for a tree cutting permit – all violations against existing environmental and forestry laws in this country.

One resident informed us that last month, they were just surprised to wake up to the fact that 761 pine trees were already cut down in the Sto. Tomas Forest Reserve in Tuba, Benguet. Worse, muddy water was coming out of the faucets of residents.

We’re told that government has yet to develop a cleanup plan for the water source in the Sto. Tomas watershed that was reportedly contaminated by the said road project.

Residents are certainly furious, saying the congressman probably thought he could just go ahead with the project without securing the necessary permits.

Granted that the two-kilometer road was necessary for “development,” permits must still be secured for DENR to assess its impact on the environment, like what one developer did when it decided to expand an existing mall project. During that time, so-called environmental groups even filed an environmental case that was later dismissed by the Baguio Regional Trial Court.

If people can still remember, the mall developer did not cut down trees but “earth-balled” them for replanting in another location. In fact, the company is using its own resources to embark on a reforestation project, having donated some 30,000 tree seedlings for several Benguet towns.

While private companies and business groups in Baguio are making every effort to comply with environmental laws and requirements, government officials – and a congressman at that, are the very ones who are making the degradation worse – which is totally criminal.

***

Makati City returns unused PDAF

Just recently, the city government of Makati under Mayor Junjun Binay returned almost P55 million worth of unused PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) to the Bureau of Treasury.

According to Mayor Junjun, the move was in compliance with the recent Supreme Court ruling declaring PDAF to be unconstitutional, explaining that the city government is just a custodian of the funds and that legislators decide where or how to use the fund.

Makati residents who learned of the move commented that the city government does not really need to rely on the PDAF for various development projects aimed at helping them.

Makati City is one of the wealthiest (if not the wealthiest) cities in the Philippines today, and many attribute the surge in its progress and development to former Makati mayor and now Vice President Jejomar Binay.

During his term, VP Binay transformed the city into a premier financial district and was one of the first local chief executives to push for computerization – some of the reasons why he emerged as one of the finalists in the 2006 World Mayor awards by the international think-tank group City Mayors Foundation.

The Binays continue to be popular in Makati because of programs like the Blu Card that gives residents living outside exclusive villages certain rights and privileges, among them cash gifts of P1,000 to seniors during Christmas and on their birthdays – something that resonates well not only with the old ones, but also to their families.

Australia pushes for oldest retirement age

Meantime in Australia, senior citizens are angry at the proposal to move the retirement age to 70 – making it the highest in the world with Norway, Iceland and Israel setting the national retirement age at 67.

Proponents argue that while there is much to celebrate in Australians having longer life spans, the cost of funding old age pensions is becoming a strain among younger workers who would have to increase their contributions and tax remittances.

Australia is grappling with a budget deficit estimated at $47 billion this 2014, and Australia’s retirement age pensioners draw about A$40 billion (about US$37.4 billion), leading to fears about a “gray time bomb” due to an increasing number of old age pensioners against a dwindling taxpayer base.

Almost 70 percent of Australians, however, oppose the move saying this will only make it harder for younger people to find employment and could create a jobless generation especially among 15 to 24-year-olds where unemployment rose to 13 percent, the highest in 12 years according to reports.

In the Philippines, however, it might be a good idea to raise the retirement age to a certain level since we have a bigger base of young workers between 25 to 35 who are still productive.

A higher retirement age might be particularly suitable in the military because 56 is still a relatively young age for retirement – especially to prevent the temptation among officials to line their pockets anticipating that they won’t stay long in their profession.

Poverty, reconstruction and development in Eastern Visayas after Yolanda CROSSROADS (Toward Philippine Economic and Social Progress) By Gerardo P. Sicat (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 25, 2014 - 12:00am


By Gerardo P. Sicat

In an earlier column (June 4, 2014), I described my impressions of the Eastern Visayas six months after Typhoon Yolanda’s destructive fury. Today, I look into the reconstruction phase in wider development context.

“Samar and Leyte as island bridges of the nation.” Samar and Leyte are the island bridges between the country’s north and the south and the western Visayan islands. They have good land, mineral and aquatic resources and are well populated. These attributes are favorable for agricultural, fishery and industrial potentials.

During the 1960s until the mid-1980s, Leyte was an economic leader among the Visayan provinces. This was in part due to strong political connections. Such luck turned upside down after 1986 – People Power time.

Leyte, however, is part of the country’s economic chain of strength. Its geothermal resources have been tapped, producing electricity for the national electrical grid. Its coconut, abaca and other produce have contributed toward raising national economic supply.

Samar is a different story. The eastern side of the island is linked to the national road network. But the rest of the province has remained relatively backward.

“Poverty in Eastern Visayas.” Before Typhoon Yolanda visited, the poverty status was worsening. While the nation’s overall situation has been improving on the average, the region’s poverty incidence worsened from 2006 to 2012.

In 2006, it was the 7th poorest, with 41.5 percent of people in poverty; in 2012, its poverty incidence rose to 45.2 percent percent of population, making it the second poorest region in the country.

* Samar island has the poorest provinces, Eastern Samar having 63.7 percent of the people among the poor. Leyte is better off, but in 2012, Southern Leyte had 43.3 percent of its population as part of the poor, still relatively poor by national standards.

“Yolanda damage aggravates poverty.” After Yolanda, the poor have become desperately poorer along the typhoon’s path.

When standing agricultural crops are wiped out, the expected output is totally lost. When capital (the means to more production) is badly damaged or lost, then multi-year future output is reduced if not totally lost.

The poor who have low incomes cannot buy insurance. Their lives are intertwined with hand-to-mouth economic sustenance against the whims of nature. That makes them very vulnerable to catastrophic disasters.

After Yolanda, the poverty situation got worse. The economic loss arising from casualties of 5,826 dead and officially missing of 983 persons, close to 30,000 persons were injured surely transmitted more poverty on the survivors.

“Official estimates of damage and needs.” Official damage count according to NEDA’s Region 7 reports that 420,000 houses were damaged, with 220,000 of them wiped out. Nearly 1,000 government-owned structures were also destroyed.

The economic damage to output and capital reached P68 billion. In agriculture, the damage came to P38 billion (48 percent; all percentages in this and next paragraph are with respect to the total); to the social services sector (which included housing, education and health) it was P15.3 billion (20 percent); to trade and services, P11.4 billion (15.2 percent); infrastructure, P6.4 billion (10 percent of total); to industry P1.7 billion (or 2.3 percent).

The government assessed that the reconstruction and replacement costs for this damage sums up to P78.5 billion. Much of this amounting to P22.7 billion (or 32 percent) is for action in the social sectors (education, health and housing); the reconstruction of the agriculture, fishery and forestry sector amounts to P16.4 billion (or 23 percent); the recovery of industry and trade requires P13.9 billion (19.7 percent); and infrastructure needs P11.4 billion (15 percent).

According to NEDA’s Region 7, such damage from the typhoon affected 1.29 million workers, impacting on the 70 percent of the employed workers in the region. Further, this meant a rise of underemployment from 24 percent to 36 percent.

The projected output (the gross domestic regional product, GDRP) of the region was estimated to imply a drop of 18.9 percent for the year. Such drop in output could only mean an aggravation of poverty in the region. Early estimates say that the 46 percent poverty estimate for the region could rise to 60 percent!

Even if these estimates are overboard, one thing is clear. The economic damage and the setback to the region is immense.

“Economic reconstruction and development.” The rebuilding from the ruins has already begun.

The economic catastrophe was borne by families, business and private business, with some relief provided by government and external aid.

Activities of a short-term nature was most important immediately after the disastrous typhoon. For instance, various social aids – mainly in the form of housing support – shelter kits, immediate cash, planning of recovery and new shelter sites – were dispensed to take care of survival needs.

While much private, non-governmental assistance has been given, these have already tapered down. In general, it is the persistence of government help and the effort to undertake long- term development projects that will save the day for the region.

“Reconstruction and development projects go together.” In the case of Eastern Visayas, the reconstruction projects and development projects go together. They both move the region out of extreme poverty.

The case for Leyte is one also of catch-up. The province could play its destined role for a larger stake in the country’s development. Reconstruction programs and development projects would expand Leyte’s economic capacity.

The case of Samar is one of rising from the depths of poverty. Much of Samar – the northern part – was spared by Yolanda. But it is one of the most neglected of areas of the country. This has made it ripe as a hotbed of NPA insurgency.

The USAid is financing the widening and rehabilitation of a long stretch of roads from the central part of the province all the way to the southern tip of the island to Guiuan. A major challenge for Samar is to build a road network to connect the coastal communities and the interior.

A program of road-building and upgrading, complemented by investments in irrigation, are included in the regional development plan. This includes building the northeastern coastal roads that have long been missing to complete encircling the island.

Rising prices: Crisis in the making BIZLINKS By Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 24, 2014 - 12:00am


By Rey Gamboa

Inflation figures released by the National Statistics Office for April have shown a much higher level compared to the 3.9 percent posted the previous month. While it’s true that this 4.1-percent increase is still within the projected band of between three to five percent that had been forecasted by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), it should set off some worrying by our government.

In recent weeks, prices of food (including rice, pork, beef and vegetables), electricity, and fuel have been rising. It’s been awhile since Filipinos have seen this kind of price instability of so many basic commodities at about the same time.

And after having enjoyed a long period of relative stability in inflation rates, one can’t help fear that a bubble is just about to burst.

Global trend

The World Bank, too, has expressed concern about rising food prices in the global market which has been attributed to droughts in some parts of the world, political and economic stress in some major food producing countries, and the rising demand by China.

In a recent report, the Bank said that world food prices increased by four percent from January to April compared to the same period last year, putting an end to relatively stable food pricing across the globe that started in August 2012.

Among the headliners in food products that saw increases were wheat and maize, which were up 18 and 12 percent, respectively, despite the bumper crop harvest last year and projection of higher farm production this year. Both are extensively imported by the Philippines.

While the movement of rice in other major rice producing countries have been mixed (increases in Myanmar and Somalia, but decreases in Thailand and Cambodia), the Philippines had shown double-digit percentage price spikes which was attributed to low stock levels.

Within the year, the National Food Authority (NFA) is looking at further hikes in domestic rice prices, citing the continued drought experienced in some major rice producing regions of the country and the recent increases in the price of fuel.

Other food products affected

* Aside from rice, the Philippines has also recently experienced higher price movements in other basic commodities like pork, chicken, beef and vegetables. Again, the NFA is saying that the rise in international crude oil prices, which is immediately reflected in service stations, is to be blamed.

Crude oil has reportedly risen three percent to $104 per barrel. This has also caused electricity rates to rise.

Readiness

International organizations like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have continued to warn about possible dire consequences on marginalized sectors of Philippine society arising from the recent spike in food prices.

While there is a possibility that these price hikes are temporary, as had been assured by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, it would not be amiss to bring out the options in case domestic food prices continue on its upward trend.

Of course, on a macro level, the BSP is confident that interventions like raising interest rates and hiking banks’ reserve requirements to 21 percent from 20 percent in September will be able to control inflationary tendencies.

Still, on the ground, nothing is quite as comforting as knowing that our farmers are protected from global shocks. And unfortunately, this can only be achieved if our government would give more attention to providing support to local food suppliers.

Securing the country’s food supply should be a major program by the government, perhaps even more important than building those skyways.

After all, traffic congestion does not kill; hunger does.

What is wrong with NFA-Vinafood mega-rice import contract

Our regular column contributor, Manuel Q. Bondad, shares his surprise on why the Vietnam government is pressing for a renegotiation of the recently signed and announced rice import contract between Vietnam and the Philippines. Here are his thoughts:

“The report “Vietnam to re-negotiate rice contract with Philippines” (VietNamBridge, June 2, 2014) more than a month after our ally’s state trading firms won the recent mid-April auction for the importation of 800,000 metric tons of 15 percent rice brokens is unsettling news amid escalating domestic retail prices and a looming El Niño.

“What appears to have gone wrong? The same news agency on April 19, 2014 had reported in an article (“Exporters bargain rice away, farmers suffer”) that Nguyen Hung Linh, chair of the Vietnam Food Association (VFA) of which the victorious Vinafood 1 and 2 are members, “declined to provide information about the winning bid, but said the winning bid was a reasonable market price.”

“To our recollection, this is an unprecedented development. The directive (by the VFA and the Vietnam Industry and Trade Ministry) to “re-negotiate” the contract with the NFA appears to be anchored on “ the overly low bid that Vinafood 1 and 2 made to the Philippines to win the contract, and the strict requirements in the contract.”

“In our view, the pricing parameters on the auction could be a problem and was not a settled matter. A source of VietNamBridge was quoted, “Vietnam obtained the right to sell to the Philippines for $439 per ton CIF (cost, insurance, freight).”

“The NFA has accepted and announced the price to be CIF (“landed cost,” cost, insurance, freight)/DDU (“door to door” including port cargo handling and delivery to designated warehouses). In fact, the 2013 rice contract with Vinafood 1 for 705,700 MT (25 percent brokens) for $461.77 was on a CIF/DDU basis as reported in Manila.

“How will the issue be resolved speedily and fairly? Will a cheaper rice grade and/or an assumption by the NFA of port cargo and delivery expenses be acceptable?”

A reply from Secretary Alcala BREAKTHROUGH By Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 26, 2014 - 12:00am


By Elfren S. Cruz

Last Sunday, I wrote a column entitled “Time to Let Alcala Go.” I was, of course, referring to Agriculture Department Secretary Proceso Alcala. Philippine STAR received a five-page reply from the Secretary which said the intention was to provide “a few facts that may help put your column ...in a better perspective.”

The letter is too long to reprint in full in this column. However, in fairness I would like to reprint excerpts that address the major issues I raised in my column. Before I do that, let me first state that I have never met Secretary Alcala. My views were based solely on my critical and logical analysis of his performance the past four years.

On the issue of rice self sufficiency here is what he wrote:

“...we improved the country’s rice self sufficiency from 82% to 96% by 2013 using the formula of Food and Agriculture Organization. Of course we set a higher target, but not achieving this cannot be considered serious ineptitude in the light of what we achieved...despite the storms that hit us, particularly Sendong that hit the rice lands of Central Luzon. “

Here is what he wrote on the issue of rice price stability:

“You are concerned about consumers who have to pay more for the rice they buy. Please know that the price of NFA rice has remained the same. The well milled rice is bought by other consumers who may not be target consumers. Some Metro Manilans who buy NFA rice are not intended consumers of NFA rice but they deprive the real target groups of supply. For this reason we cooperate with DSWD to improve targeting.”

Here is what he wrote on the NFA:

“The NFA reform agenda has been submitted to the economic managers. Decisions need to be made...I regret that you take off from the assumption that the NFA is corrupt. While I cannot guarantee that it is now 100% corruption free, I need you to know that over the last 17 months, the NFA has had the least graft-ridden operation in many, many years.

Here is what he wrote on Secretary Pangilinan.

“I respect your opinion, Mr. Cruz, if you sincerely believe that Sec. Pangilinan can do a good job not only in the four agencies transferred to the Office of the President but to run the entire Department of Agriculture. However, I believe this decision belongs to the President, who I fully trust has a more complete assessment of the results on the ground and who respects the farmers and fishers whom we have served in the last four years.”

Alcala also wrote on irrigation, coconut infestation and the garlic issue which I will print in a future column.

* * * A brief rejoinder: After reading Secretary Alcala’s letter, I continue to stand by what I wrote in my column in Philippine STAR last Sunday, June 22. However, I do not intend to reprint my entire column. I just want to add a few comments on the letter sent to me.

First, It was Secretary Alcala who, in 2011 and again in 2013, promised self sufficiency in rice, corn, onions, garlic and other food produce. There was nothing in his statements that said self sufficiency could be attained ONLY if there are no typhoons.

There will always be typhoons and floods in the Philippines. The logical assumption is that we have to find a way to be self sufficient in rice and other food produce in spite of typhoons and floods. If the Secretary of Agriculture believes that this is impossible, unless typhoons are banned, then the promise should have been clearly conditional.

Second, the Office of the President has said that rice price stability can be expected in the next two months. I do not think that this announcement was limited to the prices of NFA rice but included even well milled rice. Perhaps, the Office of the President should inform the Department of Agriculture that the goal of price stability is not limited to NFA rice but also includes well milled rice and other food produce.

Third, the number of markets and dealers who will sell NFA rice has been increased. I did not realize that the purchase of NFA is limited to certain targeted segments and not the general public. If this is the case then increasing the outlets will only increase the number of buyers of NFA rice especially now that there has been a promise that there will be quality standards. By the way, what are the qualifications needed to purchase NFA rice?

Fourth, if the reform agenda for the NFA is being delayed by the economic managers, may we know who are these economic managers and what are the decisions they are delaying? Again if these managers are the ones to blame for the failure to reform the NFA, and not the Secretary, the public should know the details so that accountability is clear. Do these economic managers include the heads of Finance, NEDA, Budget, and Trade?

Fifth, I want to state that I have not talked to Pangilinan for many, many years. I really do not know him personally. It was P-Noy who obviously believed that he can do a better job and, therefore, transferred these critical agencies from the present Secretary to Pangilinan.

I just do not see the logic of dividing the Department into two units. The DA has a unified mission: “To help and empower the farming and fishing communities and the private sector to produce enough accessible and affordable food for every Filipino and a decent income for all.”

There is an immediate need for a new and unified leadership in a unified Department of Agriculture.

Again, it is time to let Alcala go.

[PHNO RE-POSTED THE SPECIFIED SUNDAY COLUMN HERE EDITOR'S PICK- CHILL (click and please scroll down to the 4th article]


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE