The Daily Tribune
Everything about the Gloria government is a publicity gimmick, from the P5 billion subsidy to some 300,000 poorest of the poor families,
to its latest claim that with the prices of rice skyrocketing, it is “good economics” to produce rice locally, to going all the way to the World Bank to get it to influence rice-exporting countries to lift their shipment curbs that have threatened the food security of importing countries.
It is all being done by Gloria Arroyo to create the impression that she is doing all she can to solve the rice crisis, caused by the cereal’s shortage worldwide, affecting the Filipinos negatively.
But who is she trying to fool? Just whose fault is it that the Philippines, an agricultural country, has become the No. 1 rice importer in the world, and worse, it is the Gloria government that has caused the rice prices worldwide to soar, as driven by the need for the country’s supply, she and her aides have been purchasing rice imported from Vietnam and Thailand and other rice producing countries at any price, the latest price pegged at $1,200 per metric ton.
Now she claims to a reporter of Wall Street Journal, that it makes “good economics” for the country to work toward increasing the domestic rice production instead of importing rice.
It doesn’t take an economist to divine that an agricultural country such as the Philippines, would have all the chances of being self-sufficient in rice production to ensure rice security for Filipinos. Even an idiot can figure this out.
We were already self-sufficient in rice that the country was already exporting the cereal to several countries.
She is an economist, and to hear her say it, a good economist. So why hasn’t she done anything by way of rice farmers support for their production all these years? Why didn’t she do anything by way of pushing irrigation projects to encourage more rice farmers? Why did she allow a lot of arable lands to be transformed into commercial projects?
Gloria has been sitting in Malacañang for the past seven years — more years than that which a regular president would have under the Constitution. Yet in all that time, instead of providing genuine support for the Filipino rice farmers to ensure food security in this agricultural country, she opted for massive importation of the cereal.
But then again, there was a lot of money in importing rice — kickbacks and commissions would be part of it, along with even more money in smuggling the cereal into the country.
Worse, even as Gloria, with her publicity campaign stunts, announces the release of fertilizers for the farmers, is discovered to have been diverted to her campaign kitty, with part of it given to several administration congressional and mayoralty candidates for them to support Gloria’s presidential candidacy in 2004.
Even at that point, despite having diverted the fertilizer funds in the billions to her campaign kitty, Gloria and her cohorts in the agriculture department, notably her front and bagman, then DA Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante, even showed their utterly uncaring ways for the farmers and their plight by diluting the fertilizers for farmers, along with giving them fertilizers for flowering plants instead of fertilizers for rice and other cereals.
For all that talk of gearing toward self sufficiency in domestic rice production, that again, is all talk, for her political survival. Gloria and her rice aide, DA Secretary Arthur Yap, have been talking about increasing domestic rice production and self sufficiency by 2011. That’s rubbish and they know it.
Gloria also said she will be rethinking her rice importation policy, giving this all to the private importers instead of the National Food Authority.
But who among the importers would want to get into this — unless rice is smuggled in — and price the cheapest imported rice at P50 per kilo?
What she is again into is to shift the blame of rice scarcity and high prices on private importers, when the crisis hits a peak.
Now she comes up and says she is giving a P5 billion cash doleout to some 300,000 poorest families, evidently to shore up her horrible image. And then, she calls on the World Bank to influence rice importing countries to lift shipment curbs. Is she kidding? Why would these countries that also want to ensure domestic supply of the cereal for their people, endanger their food security for Gloria’s political survival?
When Gloria stole the presidency from then sitting President Joseph Estrada, through a coup d’ etat, all she and her cohorts thought of was to make billions for themselves — for at least nine years.
Their greed has finally caught up with them.