Monday, March 7, 2011
SENATE OFFICE, Manila, March 8, 2011-Amidst an imminent food crisis arising from threats of skyrocketing crude oil price due to the Middle East conflict, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, chairman of Senate Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries, said the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries (COCAFM) said that the government is considering a rice stockpiling policy as a contingency measure to ensure food security and working with other agencies on setting contingency measures with regards to any adverse and abrupt impact of rising crude oil price where the government feared to hit to $150 per barrel as futures market already hit above the $110 per barrel level.
Pangilinan insisted that rice stockpiling is something that they raised and responded through the executive department that there should be a definite policy on stockpiling in the event a global crisis without necessarily resorting to panic and be ready no matter what happen.
The National Food Authority (NFA) new policy allowing the private sector to import as much as 75 percent for the immediate rice import volume while Pangilinan assured that the COCAFM which he heads will closely monitor effective delivery of the needed rice volume, saying that the NFA should come in as a regulatory body to ensure the approvals for these permits be granted to those truly deserving, those that have the capacity to deliver to assure rice availability.
Pangilinan said that this is worth the try considering that the government has failed last years in its rice import policy where rice importation track record has not been good, adding that we had a policy of buying rice at a high price. But this is a new strategy, and we’re hopeful to find solutions.
The private sectors set to import 660,000 metric tons (MT) of the 880,000 T that has to be brought in before July where the NFA’s burden of financing of the import should be eased.
Angelito Banayo, NFA Administrator admitted that there had been some disturbing developments on rice in the world market explaining that six percent of the total rice production in the world is traded; thus the government has to ensure that their population will consume their production.
Banayo furthered that one of the disturbing signals on rice reserve in the world market is Vietnam which traditionally the country’s biggest rice supplier through its state-owned Vina Foods that gave notice last November that it is only exporting 5.5 million metric tons (MT) of rice this year while 6.8 million MT last year.
This resulted to the policy of creating a bigger rice storage area for their people due to rice production problems which came from the Mekong Delta, a source of its irrigation but on which it has conflicts with Laos and China. “India is now limiting its rice export to the high-priced fancy Basmati rice which used to export its rice,” he said.
NFA is scheduled to import 220,000 MT of the immediate volume to be imported or just 25 percent. The inter-agency committee (IAC) composed of representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Agricultural Statistics on rice has estimated a rice import volume of 1.1 million MT to 1.5 million MT for 2011.
This must be less significantly less than the 2.25 million MT that the country imported in 2010 and the 2.4 million MT imported in 2009.
The government may still review the IAC volume in light of a threat of rice price that may soar due to the Middle East crisis as reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization. It is feared rice price may rise to the 2008 levels when price hit $1,000 per MT in the world market. (Jason de Asis)
SENATE OFFICE, Manila, March 8, 2011-Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations lauded President of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Judge Sang-Hyun Song for a lecture on the ICC and the Rome Statute at the Senate, saying that she was honored like him as a primary resource person sharing with the committee in widening knowledge and experience in ICC and Rome Statute.
The ICC is an independent entity based on a treaty, the Rome Statute which governs its jurisdiction and functioning as well as the permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern like genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
She said that the Philippines shared the principles upon which ICC’s mandate is anchored upon where it is our fundamental duty, as articulated in our Constitution, to protect human rights, to include the right to human life and dignity, and remained steadfast in the policy to condemn and to penalize perpetrators of the most atrocious acts.
The Senator noted that the Philippines has Republic Act 9851 law that defines and penalizes crimes against international humanitarian law, genocide and other crimes against humanity as a nation that gravely condemns the most heinous acts against humans, adding that Mr. Song’s visit was greatly timely where we learned from his wisdom of ICC’s experienced.
She said that in addressing the most serious crimes of international concerns genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and aggression, Mr. Song served as a catalyst time in the ICC’s growing role.
Legarda explained that millions of Filipinos are deployed in various parts of the world where we cannot help but be deeply concerned with the events that occur in foreign lands especially when circumstances become threats to the lives and safety of our countrymen.
“Thousands of our citizenry remain trapped in Libya in the midst of the continuing unrest, make us all the more persistent and eager in seeking ways to strengthen the protection of our citizens’ life, welfare and rights,” the Senator ended. (Jason de Asis)
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