Saturday, October 29, 2011
While we welcome the efforts of the Armed Forces to capture and bring to justice those responsible for the murderous rampage that led to the deaths of our men in uniform, we must reiterate our position that bombings and the capture of rebel camps do not necessarily lead to victory in the field.
The US dropped more bombs during the Vietnam War than they then did during World War II, yet they lost to the Vietnamese.
We must win the peace. Military operations, war, and destruction will not achieve this.
It is important to preserve the Ifugaos’ traditional methods of upland rice farming and sustainable communal agriculture, and, more importantly, pass on this knowledge to future generations of Ifugaos, as these are sources of huge tourism and economic impact that will also improve the incomes of the Ifugao folk.
We cannot kill the Ifugao farmers’ source of life, culture, and pride. We must do whatever we can to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the rice terraces and make a sustainable living out of them. We owe it not only to them or to ourselves, but to our ancestors who have entrusted the rice terraces to us over the last 2,000 years.
For more updates on these efforts, interested parties may like the “Save the Ifugao Rice Terraces campaign” page on Facebook or follow @saveIRT on Twitter. Those who wish to help may also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
My only concern is whether or not the sale of the FTI would run counter to our efforts at achieving food self-sufficiency. Our goal is to make sure that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing, or to make sure that the left hand is not taking away what the right hand is giving. At face value, it would seem that the sale of FTI means that we are moving away from our goal of becoming competitive and taking away from our efforts at upping the incomes of our farmers by giving them access to markets and top-of-the-line post-harvest facilities.
We must make sure that our efforts are synchronized so that the money will not go to waste. It has become the new mantra of this administration to increase the incomes of our farmers, and that is what we should focus on.
Having a food distribution hub is crucial, as it has been proven in other countries that farmers can double their incomes if they have access to the markets. The DA must make their position clear to the DOF how much land they want to retain within the FTI property to ensure that our efforts at strengthening the entire supply chain will not be compromised with this sale.
Privatization per se is not necessarily a bad policy, we just need to have a coordinated plan and a clear cut policy to ensure that the farmers and fisherfolk will directly benefit from the proceeds of the sale of the FTI.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Subsidize adaptive seed varieties to farmers in preparation for possible impact of Thailand flooding on world rice supply and price
The DA must strategize in helping local farmers increase their yield by aggressive intervention. We call for massive modernization of the country’s rice mills.
We currently have 55 to 60 percent recovery. If we use more modern milling machines and increase recovery rate even by 5 percent, we won’t have to import rice. Comparatively, China and Thailand have 68 to 79 percent recovery. We must be proactive and our approach must be scientific in anticipation of disruptions in the world market. Depending on the adequacy of stocks in Cambodia, Vietnam and Burma, world prices of rice may go up again. We must engage in aggressive interventions now before prices skyrocket.
Increasing our yield is an imperative so that we do not find ourselves at the mercy of rice exporting nations as we secure the much needed supply of our basic staple.
We have neglected agriculture for decades, which is why our neighbors like Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea, and Thailand are zooming past us while we are limping like a crippled old man. If we had, instead, focused on developing agriculture in our “food basket” of Mindanao, think of where we might be today.
History has taught us that a military solution in Mindanao has failed time and time again. We must look at the Ramos administration’s aggressive peace initiatives in the 90s that helped create the window of opportunity that laid down the foundation for economic progress in cities like GenSan (General Santos), Cagayan de Oro, and Davao. In the Mindanao experience, war has brought only misery while aggressive peace initiatives have brought real, tangible progress and development in these areas.
General Santos, for example, has risen from being a war-torn area to the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines,” with exports in 2010 valued at $359.4 million (approximately P15.5 billion).
The root cause of insurgency is poverty so why should we waste even more precious resources when we should instead be helping our people get out of poverty? What our people in the rural areas need are sustainable agricultural programs that can help feed our people and give our farmers and fisherfolk dignity in their professions. Then maybe they will no longer be encouraged to take up arms.
Ang sanhi ng gulo sa Mindanao ay matinding kahirapan. Ang solusyon ay pagkain at kabuhayan, hindi baril at armas.
We continue to call for justice for our fallen soldiers, plus the innocent lives that got caught in the crossfire. But while we need to re-think our handling of the peace negotiations with the MILF, we ought to do so in the context of how to strengthen the peace process rather than abandoning it for the path of war. And we need to retrain our focus on feeding our people, rather than perpetuating an unnecessary war.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Unless the loopholes in the provisions on ceasefire violations are addressed, we fear that violations will continue and more lives will be lost.
Ceasefire violations are a hindrance to genuine peace talks. The strengthening of mechanisms against such violations is crucial to both parties moving forward with the peace negotiations. This must include provisions on bringing to justice those perpetrators who, with their actions—regardless of their motives—have resulted in the loss of lives.
How do we achieve lasting peace? The peace initiatives during the Ramos Presidency of 1992 to 1998 are a rich source of lessons that can serve as a template for future peace negotiations with the CPP NPA NDF and the MILF. The Ramos Presidency arguably was the most successful presidency in terms of pushing for a genuine peace agenda with various rebel groups such as the CPP NPA, the MNLF, the MILF and including rightist rebels from the RAM.
The ceasefire talks and negotiations with all armed groups created an atmosphere of relative peace in the years 1992 to 1998. The peace accord with the MNLF signed in 1996 created a window of opportunity for development in Mindanao. Through aggressive peace negotiations and an aggressive enticing of the private sector to invest in Mindanao, a wave of development was realized which gave way to the development in cities like General Santos, Cagayan de Oro and Davao City. Prior to the 90s, these cities were all backward and underdeveloped. This progress was achieved as well in part due to the emergence of reform minded local leaders in these areas.
The Ramos administration's peace and economic initiatives together with the efforts of strong leaders in the local level made progress in many areas in Mindanao possible. It is a template that should be built upon by future administrations. A second wave of peace and economic development initiatives can lead to the emergence of more progressive cities like Marbel, Iligan, Cotabato and Zamboanga in Mindanao and progress in provinces such as those in Samar and the Bicol Region where the incidence of poverty continue to be very high.
Image Source: Inquirer.net
We cannot simply turn a blind eye to the murderous and lawless armed elements in the area, who with treachery take advantage of the restraint exercised by our men in uniform out of respect for the peace process.
We should continue to talk peace with the MILF but we should show no mercy for the murderous lost commands. We trust that the MILF will agree that these lost commands should be dealt with the full force of the law.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
We will all be made to account for our official acts and as such we must strive to ensure that the power that is entrusted to us by our people should never be abused lest we face the wrath of those we serve.
Political power is not an end in itself, but must at all times be a means to uphold our people’s rights and their welfare and that most importantly one’s exercise of political power shall, as in all things, come to an end.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
The end of violence in Spain gives us hope, and we believe we have more cause to be united as Filipinos and more reason to work harder for peace. This generation and its leaders must exhaust all efforts to achieve lasting peace.
With the genuine desire of President Aquino to reach out and have a dialogue with the NDF and MILF, now more than ever our goal of finally achieving peace is within reach. We hope that all parties exert extra effort to make this happen now, within our lifetime. Forty years is too long to be at war with our own brothers. Too many lives have been lost, and too much precious resources have been wasted in addressing this conflict. The time to end all this is now.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Every single life lost in this conflict is a pin pricked in the heart of our nation. We grieve for our soldiers, their families and loved ones. They paid the ultimate price for our nation.
We must work for genuine peace and usher in progress so that their deaths will not be in vain.
Government must firm up its resolve to end the root causes of social unrest and armed conflict in Mindanao so as to put meaning in the deaths of our men in uniform.
We urge the GRP peace panel to review its current track to the path of peace and rethink its handling of the MILF given this latest unfortunate incident. It appears that the approach needs a serious review. We cannot allow the MILF to dictate the terms and conditions of the peace process. This latest incident is a major setback in the efforts to secure a just and honorable peace.
While we will not jump into the fray and call on a suspension of the talks, given this latest incident, the GRP should not rule out the option of suspending the talks if we find the MILF explanation and its subsequent acts to address the matter as unacceptable.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
It was a close shave considering it was 8-7 but we are thankful that we can still draw some support from the Supreme Court for the reform efforts of the president. We do hope however that there won’t be any last minute flip-flopping by the SC on the issue. Given recent developments and the close vote one cannot help but be wary of the final outcome. Still it is a welcome development for the cause of real reform in ARMM.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
In the past government was heavily addicted to rice imports. Going back to this addiction is the wrong way to go. We trust that President Aquino has sufficient information regarding the state of our rice supply to decide against additional rice imports for 2011. While importing rice ensures we have an adequate and steady supply of the commodity, it has also a direct impact on the price of rice in the local market should the supply be more than sufficient.
An oversupply of rice due to imports impacts directly on the income of our farmers who have suffered greatly due to the damage to their crops brought about by the recent typhoons.
The country cannot afford to have an oversupply of rice as doing so will impoverish more farmers in the countryside.
Too much rice is a disincentive for farmers to plant more rice when the farmgate prices are low. We do not want to add to the suffering of our farmers by flooding the market with rice imports. In order to protect the welfare of our local farmers, the importation of rice must be done only when it is absolutely necessary and in amounts that will not flood the markets. We cannot afford to go back to the days wherein we were swimming in rice as it hurts our local farmers.
Monday, October 10, 2011
This release increases our confidence in the peace process. In the final analysis, we all want lasting peace to become a reality in our country. Now is the time for both panels to sit down and declare a truce and resume peace talks.
Talking peace is not at all possible when we are shooting at one another. A ceasefire is a must.
We all look forward to the day when we finally have lasting peace. We must continue to strive for it and achieve it in our lifetime.
As a former student activist during the Marcos dictatorship, I am well aware of the cause the NDFP espouses. When the roots of armed conflict are addressed by a government committed to genuine change then the path to peace must be given a chance to succeed.
We urge the GPH and the NDF to immediately declare a ceasefire as a means to give way to formal talks. A new generation of Filipinos deserves to see lasting peace achieved in our lifetime. We look to the future wherein the guns of war are silenced forever. The peace process must pave the way for economic growth and development in the rural areas. Only when we succeed in developing our rural areas--creating gainful employment for our people in the countryside in an atmosphere of unity and peace--can we truly progress as a nation.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
We need immediate restocking of bangus fingerlings in small fishpens in Bulacan and other areas damaged by the typhoons. Left alone, it would take them 60 to 75 days to restock. That would take too long. If we don’t act fast, this will impact our food supply chain.
We also urge the Department of Agriculture to give away fingerlings for free to fishpen owners to help them recover.
Most of these fishpen owners are left with nothing. Wala na rin silang pambayad para mag-restock. Instead of subsidizing, the DA should give away fingerlings for free.
Data from the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food (PCAFI) show that more than 36,000 metric tons of bangus and tilapia were lost due to typhoon Pedring alone. In Hagonoy, over 7,000 hectares of fishponds were destroyed. Figures are expected to go higher as officials tally the damages. BFAR can get fisherlings from their stock as well as private hatcheries. The government needs only to allocate funds for the DA to be able to give away the fingerlings to fisherfolk as soon as possible.
Let us prioritize small fishfarmers and help them get back on their feet and help mitigate the damaging effects of the typhoon. If we don’t do so soon, we will feel the immediate effects on our food supply chain. We urge the government to allocate and release funds now for the immediate restocking of our food.
We need government’s intervention on our agricultural sector by securing our farmer’s yield on the next two croppings. At the most, we can only recover 50 percent of our harvest damaged by Pedring and Quiel. We ask the Department of Agriculture to subsidize palays for farmers and suspend irrigation fees for the next two croppings. Kung hindi natin gagawin ito, mababaon sa utang ang ating mga magsasaka at buong bayan ang maaapektuhan.
We also call for the immediate release of P500M state reserve funds throught the PCIC for farmers.Yang halagang iyan ay nakasaad sa charter ng PCIC. Dapat sana ay mailabas na sa lalong madaling panahon ang perang ito nang sa gayon ay hindi naman mabaon sa utang ang ating mga magsasaka. Isang kahig, isang tuka na nga sila, mababaon pa sila sa matinding utang dahil sa pananalanta ng bagyo.
Sa huli, hindi lang ang kabuhayan ng magsasaka ang isasalba natin dito. Nakasalalay din dito ang ating pagkain. Kalahating pursiyento ng ating suplay ng bigas galing sa Luzon. Maaaring hindi pa natin mararamdaman ang kakulangan karakaagad pero siguradong darating ito. Tulungan natin ang ating mga magsasaka at nang sa gayon ay maseguro natin na sapat ang suplay ng bigas sa bawat hapag kainan sa bansa.
We call on Local Government Units and other concerned agencies to include typhoon drills as part of their efforts in disaster preparedness.
As a means to strengthen disaster preparedness and educate our citizens on the necessity of evacuation operations and procedure during times of typhoons, LGUs and Regional Disaster Coordinating Councils should undertake typhoon drills on a regular basis.
Our schools and offices undertake earthquake drills regularly even if we have earthquakes perhaps once or twice a year, yet we do not have typhoon drills despite the fact that we have 20 typhoons hitting the country each year.
According to Local officials and rescue workers, when typhoons Pedring and Quiel hit, most homeowners refused to leave their property despite early warnings of flooding. This prompted a debate on whether the PNP and AFP should use forced evacuation procedures in such cases. Typhoon drills would address this concern as this will give the public the necessary information.
Disaster preparedness is the best way to ensure that lives are saved, and death and injuries brought down to a minimum. After visiting the disaster areas of Pampanga and Bulacan and conferring with local officials and our men from both the AFP and PNP, we see this drill as an effective way to educate and enlighten our citizens on the issue.
The Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation has a budget of P183M only for 2011. It should have at least a budget of P300M annually so they can cover as many farmers as possible.
The problem of farmers is not access to credit, but bankability. Lending institutions are more confident when the farms are insured. Kahit 50 percent ang coverage, malaking bagay na yun sa ating mga magsasaka bilang pantawid at para makapagtanim silang muli. On average, PCIC is only insuring less than 100,000 farmers every year out of around 4 million farmers in the country. That is not acceptable. Crop insurance, in the long-term, is going to be more cost-effective for the government than dealing with the tens of billions of pesos every year in crop damages.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Agri social enterprises coupled with public-private partnerships ensures sustainable agriculture in the Philippines
We really need to drastically improve our farmers’ incomes, with some farmers earning as little as P30,000 a year. We must adopt Gawad Kalinga's model to develop sustainable agricultural communities.
The commitment of the private sector, the corporate sector, is key because it is the private sector that has the needed resources to sustain the effort of modernizing agriculture and achieving food sufficiency. Government, on the other hand, must come in to provide assistance in terms of technology, research and development, and key infrastructure development around those communities.
Agri social enterprises, coupled with public-private partnerships, is unleashing People Power in the rural areas in order for agricultural communities to increase their earnings and improve their quality of life, With this, we hope to become food-sufficient and self-sustaining, thereby reshaping our nation.