Saturday, February 26, 2011

Middle East Crisis may push oil/food prices higher; Mitigation plan needed now

We call on the Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Finance to address worse case scenarios should oil prices and prices of other basic commodities rise due to the ongoing political turmoil in the Middle East. The DA should monitor the availability of food supply. The NFA must ensure rice stock remains available. The DTI should ensure strict monitoring of prices of basic commodities and protect consumers from profiteering.

We need careful planning right now rather than sounding the alarm bells later when the crisis has already landed on our shores. The government should lead the private sector in coming up with stronger measures to mitigate rising food prices across the globe, which began to reach record highs even before the political unrest began in the Middle East.

Some Asian governments have already started to come up with measures to mitigate rising prices. Erratic weather patterns have started wreaking havoc on our agricultural lands. China and India are stockpiling on grains, which means we need to rely less on importation to secure our buffer. The price of oil continues to soar. It is a matter that requires our serious attention.

The current situation may be likened to the 2008 global food crisis. Data from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization show that food price indices across the globe rise dramatically from 2006-2008. The same agency said that global food prices hit a record high on the month of December 2010 exceeding the levels of 2008, adding that prices of key grains could rise even further.

We are amenable to granting the President emergency powers should the situation continue to escalate. If the situation warrants it we will support such powers. No one anticipated the turn of events in the Middle East, and considering that some 1 million of our countrymen are based there and in addition the impact on the global economy may be adverse then we need to have a President empowered to protect our interest in times of international crisis. We also trust that President Aquino will not allow for such emergency powers to be abused.

We filed a resolution to conduct an inquiry on the government’s ability to address the sudden increase of food prices and other agricultural products. Senate Resolution 394 states that the government should recognize that there is an emergent apprehension among farmers and producers regarding the instability and uncertainty in food markets not only in the country, but also countries such as Argentina, Brazil and the United States.

We will gather all the necessary data and invite all possible resource persons including experts from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization so that we may know exactly what we are dealing with and from there be able to craft policies and legislate accordingly.

Food security is a matter of national security. It is a matter of paramount national interest. Only the combined efforts of both government and the citizenry will ensure that we will overcome these challenges. We need to tackle the issue of food security head on. We must pull the bull by its horns and ensure that both the government and our citizens are mobilized to address the challenges of rising food costs.

Image Source: National Security Law Brief

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"EDSA People Power 25 years after: It's about time we reap the rewards of the revolution

Even as the country braces for the 25th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution, the promise of genuine change and true reforms continue to elude us. The ripples of the 1986 People Power Revolution are still being felt around the world, particularly in the Middle East, where citizens in their overwhelming desire for change found the courage and become united in the efforts to topple despots.

Perhaps these current events coinciding with the 25th anniversary of our own revolution could be a call to re-awaken the true spirit of EDSA. That spirit was reborn during the May 2011 Presidential elections when we put PNoy into power. What we need is to sustain that momentum if we are to capitalize on our victory in that election. What we need is true people power.

True people power is when all of us—we in public service together with private citizens—are gathered united towards a vision for our country. It entails everyone doing their share in nation-building. It has to happen now.

The fact that we can now re-imagine a better future for our country is a benefit we enjoy because of people power. May we never take this opportunity for granted. Let us move forward towards the realization of the promise of EDSA in 1986. Twenty five years from now, more than the hope that the EDSA People Power Revolution continue to be relevant is the hope that by then the promise of genuine change and true reforms for the country would have already been achieved.

Twenty five years ago the rallying cry was to oust the dictator for corruption. Twenty five years hence and “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” is still what catapulted PNoy to power. If in 25 years, and by that time this generation would have been old and gray if not long gone, and we still have our children and our grandchildren fighting corruption, then we would have failed.

Tapusin na natin ang korupsyon ngayon para magtungo tayo sa lipunan na walang mahirap.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

We welcome the release of P50M for proper implementation of Juvenile Justice Law

We laud the administration’s release of P50 million which will be used by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to properly implement the Juvenile Justice Law.

We thank PNoy, DBM Secretary Butch Abad, DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima, and DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman in expediting the release of this fund. We now encourage all stakeholders to join in on the efforts of implementing the JJ Law in the correct manner, as well as beef up efforts in informing the public about the full intention and rationale of the law.

RA 9344 was passed as a law in 2006 to segregate children in conflict with the law from hardened criminals doing hard time in prison. Many police officials, however, are using the law as an excuse for sloppy police work.

It would seem that our police officials are not too aware of the measures that the law provides to ensure that something is done to protect the children, make them account for their acts, and ensure that justice is done in a child-appropriate process.

Under the law, children 15 years old and above who commit offenses with an imposable penalty of more than six years and who have been determined to have acted with discernment should undergo court proceedings. When brought to court, these children may be placed under suspended sentence and be subject to rehabilitation programs.

The law provides for an annual budget of P50 million pesos a year or P150 million for three years since its passing in 2006. The funds were never released during the term of PGMA.

When the new government took over, the Juvenile Justice Council had only five employees and did not have an office of its own. The previous administration funded projects of their allies to the tune of billions of pesos, yet refused to fund the law that created the Juvenile Justice system.

We are hoping that the recent release of P50 million pesos by the Aquino administration will be used for the proper training and implementation as well as information dissemination to the PNP and the general public.

Image Source: Divergent's Blog

My statement on the Supreme Court's ruling on the impeachment case vs Ombudsman

We welcome the Supreme Court’s ruling on the impeachment case against the Ombudsman. There was this growing perception that the Supreme Court was taking the cudgels for former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo whose administration has cases that have been gathering dust in the Ombudsman. We also welcome the decision as we believe that impeachment is a matter that falls exclusively within the jurisdiction of Congress, and that the Supreme Court should never have intervened in the first place. That the SC realized its mistake is a welcome development.

The failure of the Ombudsman to act swiftly on corruption cases have emboldened many to continue with their corrupt ways. The last thing we want is a Supreme Court that is perceived to be a stumbling block in the efforts to address pervasive corruption in government.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court also avoided the embarrassing situation of it being ignored by a co-equal branch if it insisted on interfering in a process that is exclusive to the House of Representatives as stated in the Constitution.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My statement on the death of former AFP Chief of Staff and Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes

Reyes, Victim of Pervasive Corruption

We are deeply saddened by the turn of events. We condole with the family of the late Secretary Angelo Reyes. It is tragic that what started out as an investigation in aid of legislation has led to his apparent suicide. Death is not a graceful exit to such a distinguished officer as Secretary Reyes. A more honorable way would have been to come out with the truth and win back the admiration of his fellow soldiers. This is now the challenge the other generals are facing.

In light of this very sad incident, we urge our colleagues to expedite the investigation on the irregularities within the Armed Forces of the Philippines. To bring the system of corruption to light is to give justice and meaning to Reyes’ death. Reyes is a victim of a corrupt system. If his death should have any meaning, it should lead to real reforms in the armed forces in particular, and the entire government bureaucracy in general.

We should not let this incident deter our efforts in curbing pervasive corruption. In fact, this brings a degree of urgency to PNoy’s advocacy against corruption. For how many sad stories must our countrymen be subjected to before we see true justice being served? Justice cannot be served this way; not through trial by publicity, but by a strong justice system.

Image Source: Global Balita

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

To our soldiers: Rally behind Mendoza and Rabusa

Tiwala tayo na agad na aaksyunan ni PNoy ang usapin ng tiwaling mga palakad sa AFP. Ito ang isang mabigat na dahilan kung bakit hanggang ngayon hindi matapos-tapos ang giyera sa Mindanao at kanayunan. Dahil sa halip na pagsusundalo ang inaatupag ng mga heneral ay pabaon at paano magpayaman ang prioridad ng mga ito. Wala silang interes na matapos ang bakbakan dahil kapag nangyari ito ay mababawasan ang gastusin sa AFP na maaari pa nilang nakawin. Kawawa ang ating mga kawal. Buhay ang binubuwis para sa AFP habang ang mga heneral ay walang sawa sa pabaon at kurakot. Hamon sa liderato ng AFP na ipakita na tunay nga na hindi na ganito ang palakad sa ating sandatahang lakas.

Sa ating mga kawal, huwag ninyong tingnan na balakid ang pangyayaring ito. Kundi, dapat ay tingnan ito na pagkakataon na linisin ang sandatahang lakas na kapag natupad ay hindi lamang bagong bota, pabahay, o pag-aaral ng inyong mga anak ang matatamasa ninyo. Dagdag pa sa mga ito ay ang malaking posibilidad na wala nang giyera sa ating bansa kung maayos ang ating lipunan.

Image Source: Quoted News