UNLOADING  OF  PLENTIFUL  MINDORO SUMMER  RICE  HARVEST  TODAY
 

PORT OF BATANGAS,  April 14, 2008 (MALACANANG) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will witness the unloading of plentiful Mindoro summer rice harvest initially from five trucks (or about 2,500 sacks) at the port of Batangas City on Monday, April 14.

The five truckloads of commercial rice represent a portion of the second harvest ("palagad") output from April to May of the rice-producing island of Mindoro, considered as the rice granary of southern Luzon.

The start of the second harvest season in many rice producing areas is expected to beef up the the country's rice inventory.

Earlier, the President directed the National Food Authority (NFA) to procure palay from farmers to beef up its rice inventory that would include eventually the expected entry within the next three months of some 750,000 metric tons of rice from the United States and Vietnam.

NFA Batangas provincial manager Alejo Tamayo said Oriental Mindoro produces five million sacks (250 million kilos) of rice annually including those coming from Mindoro Occidental.

At present, there are 31 Roll-On Roll-Off (RORO) ferry trips daily between Batangas and Calapan City of Montenegro Shipping Lines and Starlite Ferry, aside from the four RORO trips from Abra de Ilog and one from San Jose in Mindoro Occidental that transport rice and other agricultural products to neighboring provinces.

Alejo said Mindoro supplies the rice requirement of Metro Manila, Batangas, Laguna, Rizal, Quezon and even of Panay Island through the RORO ferry system between Roxas, Oriental Mindoro and Caticlan, Aklan.

To ensure supply and stable prices of rice, the President has ordered decisive measures against rice hoarders, and people engage in the diversion of NFA rice to the commercial market, rehabilitation and construction of irrigation facilities and farm-to-market roads, investing in planting, agricultural modernization, and provision of rice subsidies for the poor.

The President said her administration's near-term objective is focused on putting food on every table as the current global rise in the prices of basic commodities like fuel and rice is putting a strain on all hardworking Filipinos, especially the very poor.
 

MILITANTS  STOKE PUBLIC ANGER ON  RICE  CRISIS: PALACE  FOCUSED  ON ISSUE

(STAR) April 14, 2006 - By Paolo Romero - In the wake of food riots erupting worldwide, Malacañang is gauging the security implications of the critical rice and food situation in the country, security officials disclosed yesterday.

For the third time in three weeks, the rising prices and tightening supply of rice and other food commodities will top the agenda of the Cabinet meeting tomorrow.

“Prudence dictates that we consider all possibilities,” National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, for his part, noted the increasing efforts of militant groups to stoke up public anger against the government supposedly to trigger food riots.

“If we do not have enough food and rice for the people, then we will have a problem,” Gonzalez said. “That’s why we are doing our best to address the situation. That’s why everybody in the Cabinet are on their toes.”

Gonzalez earlier warned President Arroyo might be forced to exercise emergency powers to ensure food security if the situation warrants.

He said some leftist groups are beginning to take advantage of the situation. “The leftists have no qualms in exploiting the situation because they want to take over,” he said.

Gonzalez and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Sergio Apostol said members of the “traditional” political opposition are also trying to ride on the issue, which was to be expected of them.

“As long as they’re (political opposition) in the media, that’s okay for them,” Apostol said.

But Gonzalez expressed his opinion that the opposition will not be “unpatriotic enough to cause trouble in these critical times.”

Officials said the Cabinet meeting will focus on the security implications of the food shortage and the increasing prices of basic commodities.

The meeting would begin after the President graces the unloading of the summer rice harvest from Mindoro, which is initially about 2,500 sacks at the port of Batangas City.

The five truckloads of commercial rice represent a portion of the second harvest or “palagad” output from April to May of the rice-producing island of Mindoro, considered as the rice granary of southern Luzon, a Palace statement said.

“The start of the second harvest season in many rice producing areas is expected to beef up the country’s rice inventory,” the statement said.

Mrs. Arroyo earlier directed the National Food Authority (NFA) to procure palay from farmers to beef up its rice inventory that would include eventually the expected entry within the next three months of some 750,000 metric tons of rice from the United States and Vietnam.

NFA Batangas provincial manager Alejo Tamayo said Oriental Mindoro produces five million sacks (250 million kilos) of rice annually, including those coming from Mindoro Occidental.

At present, there are 31 Roll-On Roll-Off (RORO) ferry trips daily between Batangas and Calapan City of Montenegro Shipping Lines and Starlite Ferry, aside from the four RORO trips from Abra de Ilog and one from San Jose in Mindoro Occidental that transport rice and other agricultural products to neighboring provinces.

Alejo said Mindoro supplies the rice requirement of Metro Manila, Batangas, Laguna, Rizal, Quezon and even of Panay Island through the RORO ferry system between Roxas, Oriental Mindoro and Caticlan, Aklan.

Mrs. Arroyo earlier said her administration’s near-term objective is “focused on putting food on every table as the current global rise in the prices of basic commodities like fuel and rice is putting a strain on all hardworking Filipinos, especially the very poor.”

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap earlier urged Asian governments to hold talks on the sharply escalating cost of food.

Yap proposed a ministerial-level meeting of Asian governments to discuss means to raise food production and provide interim food aid.

Sen. Manuel Roxas II, chairman of the Senate trade and commerce committee, also supported the proposal to hold a regional food summit.

He called on the government to take the initiative in calling for a food summit among member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), along with China, Japan and South Korea. – With Christina Mendez


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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