Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Food security is a matter of national security

We express our support for Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile's challenge to the Senate to crack down on food smuggling rings and address food security in the country.

Food security is a national security matter so I call on colleagues in government to get to the bottom of food smuggling rings to help ensure the sustainability of local agriculture.

We are ready to get to the bottom of this latest attempt at smuggling agricultural produce into the country. It is hoped that by getting to the bottom of this reprehensible act we will prevent its repeat. Flooding the market with smuggled rice deprives our rice farmers of their incomes and serves as a major disincentive for them to continue planting rice. It severely undermines our rice sufficiency program because it takes away from the farmers the opportunity to get fair market prices for their produce.

Smuggling is the surest way to drive our local farmers and fisherfolk out of business and kill our local agricultural industry. This is one major factor why we are unable to bring our farmers out of poverty, and the smuggling of agricultural products threatens our food security efforts.

Rampant smuggling must be stamped out if food security is to be achieved for close to 100 million Filipinos.

When we undertake this investigation on the incident of smuggling and other incidents of smuggling, we are actually addressing a national security matter. Smuggling threatens the existence of our agricultural industry, and without an agricultural industry, up to 60% of our labor force will lose their jobs, the prices of food will skyrocket, and we could be facing a serious food crisis in the coming years.

This is why the problem of smuggling is a national problem, and we—government and the private sector alike—must put an end to this once and for all.

1 comment:

Luzzia said...

July 29, 2012

Dear Mr. Pangilinan,

I’m writing from British Columbia, Canada. I read about your move to tighten the meat inspection code to make more accountable the violators of the botcha practice. I hope that you will be able to proceed successfully with this undertaking. I suggest the fines to be in the millions of pesos, awards to whistle blowers, protect their names and identities and also to include the inspectors and health and sanitation inspectors. If the botcha sellers are selling in the market places, include them too in the fines.

Only peaceful vigilant involvement of each Filipino will bring about change and improvement in our country. Good officials like you will not be able to do it alone without the consensus and vigilance of individual Filipino.

Also when I went to the Philippines to visit in 2010, I had a severe stomach ache and planned to rush back to Canada for medical treatment. Immediately after I ate chicken adobo, carefully cooked by my sister, our entire family had severe stomach ache, diarrhea and vomiting. For a moment, I thought I would die. It happened during the Holy Week when in the next day, stores would be closed for Good Friday. We suspected that the raw chicken we bought must be rigged with chemicals or my sister said must be botcha.

If our legislators will just allocate budget to whistle blowers, a lot of these practices will subside. In Canada, whistle blowers have the support and protection of the government to avoid any corruption and it works.

I also want to bring up the issue of weight. Here in Canada, when we buy meat for 1 kilo, we see lots of meat that can last up to many days supply. I brought my own mini scale in one of the meat stores in Laguna and to my surprise, the one kilo ground pork I bought only weighed 0.55 about ¼ kilo. When I complained, the sales people insulted me. Rather than lose my life over the matter and not make to my family back in Canada, I let the matter rest.

Many Filipinos are being short changed in scales in the marker and everywhere else. It seemed this is one of the trades in the Philippines but people like you can make a difference.

I hope something can be done about the issues I presented here.

Sincerely yours,

Luz Mendoza

Richmond, British Columbia, Canada