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Angie M. Rosales

Explain ‘missing’ rice, NFA told

Monday, 05 March 2018 00:00 Published in Nation

Amid snowballing call for the resignation of National Food Authority (NFA) officials, an opposition senator yesterday said they still have one issue to explain — the matter of the “missing” NFA rice.

Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan noted that in recent Senate hearing, last February 27, he asked NFA officials about the availability of affordable government-subsidized rice, given their claims that they’re lacking in supply for those often bought by low-income Filipinos.
“The NFA was not able to answer our questions in the last Senate hearing. Where is NFA rice? What happened to the 245 percent increase in the distribution of NFA rice in January?” he asked.
“Where did the rice go? Why are rice prices in the market still high? Why is the buffer stock only for two days when NFA is mandated to have 15 days’ worth of stock during regular days?” Pangilinan further asked.
The NFA is required to have rice stock equivalent to 30 days during lean months.
But during the said Senate hearing, senators learned that some NFA rice were allegedly being sold illegally to some unscrupulous traders who would then rep-pack it and resell it as commercial rice at P42 to P45, or between 55 to 66 percent higher than the required NFA selling price of P27 to P32.
“For the ordinary Filipino family, instead of buying one-and-a-half kilo, it will only buy one kilo. So if a family of five consumes one-and-a-half kilo a day, it’s either everyone eats less or the mother would, which is usually the case,” Pangilinan said.
At the same Senate hearing, Assistant Secretary Mercedita Sombilla of the National Economic Development Authority revealed the 245 percent increase in distribution or market penetration in January.
Pangilinan, who headed the Office of the Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization from May 2014 to October 2015, said food is a basic human right. This means that the government as duty-bearer is obliged to make food affordable, accessible and available to its people.
“Rice is a regular staple at the Filipino dining table, even if partnered only with salt. The government, through the NFA, is there to ensure food security, or at least rice security, for all Filipinos,” he said.
Government data show that one in three farmers or 34.3 percent in 2015 and fisher folk or 34 percent, or the food producers, is poor.

Government should open a window of opportunity for the displaced Marawi residents to rebuild their homes through a “friendly” housing package, Sen. Win Gatchalian yesterday said.

“Its payment terms should be longer, maybe around 10 to 15 years, with interest of 2 to 3 percent, or even lower depending on the availability of funds,” the senator, who is a member of the Senate Ad Hoc committee on Marawi rehabilitation and reconstruction, said.
More than 8,000 families were displaced in the so-called most affected area (MAA) in the war-torn city of Marawi during the more than five months of fire fight of Maute group with government troops.
“I understand these houses are made of their tears, blood and sweat. It would really be painful for any owner to see his house torn down in an instant. That’s why we need to assess if these structures can still be repaired and from there the government should provide the necessary financial aid,” Gatchalian said.
The senator urged the National Housing Authority (NHA) to devise an affordable house rebuilding package and he called on all concerned national government agencies to aid local government units (LGUs) in assessing the damage done to houses and ground zero and in determining whether the structures are still worthy of habitation.
From these assessments, NHA could then present a suitable financing package so that settlers could start repairing and renovating their houses, he said.
Gatchalian noted the pronouncements of Undersecretary Falconi Millar of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council there are 6,400 temporary shelter units under construction in Barangay Sagonsongan. They are expected to be completed before the end of the year.
Different modalities, Millar added, were being applied to fast-track the construction, including partnerships with LGUs for the construction of 2,000 more shelters, and with other benefactor organizations through donations.
Construction of 2,700 permanent shelters, on the other hand, shall commence as soon as the Task Force Bangon Marawi identifies the location where these new units will rise.
Meanwhile, Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, Task Force Bangon Marawi chairman, said the National Economic Development Authority is scheduled to present before President Rodrigo Duterte the Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Plan (CRRP) on March 12.
The CRRP is a detailed plan of the government with respect to the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi City, based on the Post-Conflict Needs Assessment completed December last year.
This will also include the budgetary requirements for the implementation the plan, as well as a timetable of target deliverables.

Ex-rebel Trillanes to cops, soldiers: Disobey Duterte

Saturday, 03 March 2018 00:00 Published in Headlines

Reprising his role as a subversive, former coup plotter Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV called on members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to defy President Duterte’s orders not to cooperate with United Nations (UN)-sanctioned probe on his war on drugs.

By defying Duterte’s order, the senator reasoned, they will be spared from facing possible charges in the future.
“That’s an illegal order so that would make them liable for certain administrative and criminal sanctions later on, once (President) Duterte is out of power,” he said in a text message to reporters.
The senator, a staunch critic of the President, was reacting to reports on Duterte’s order to members of the PNP and AFP not to answer questions from any special rapporteur who will conduct an investigation on the government’s war on drugs.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque earlier said that the administration is open to any investigation by the UN but not through Callamard who he claimed is unfit to carry out an objective and unbiased inquiry given her earlier statements against the government’s anti-drug campaign.
Such pronouncements issued by Duterte is already “a clear sign of guilt,” Trillanes said.
“Also, it doesn’t matter anyway since most of the witnesses are not policemen or soldiers,” he said. Don’t eff with me — Rody

Mr. Duterte said last Thursday he would not cooperate with UN investigators looking into extrajudicial killings under his rule, telling police and soldiers not to cooperate with any probe.
Duterte’s angry reaction came after his government said it was willing to accept a visit from a UN Special Rapporteur to look into the rash of killings under Duterte’s deadly anti-drug war.
“When the human rights or whoever is that rapporteur arrives, my order to you is, do not answer... Who are they and who are you to interfere in the way I would run my country?” he told a gathering of police and military.
“If they ask you about wrongdoing, do not answer. And if they ask you why, tell them: we have a commander in chief,” who they should speak to, he said.
“You’re investigating us, fact finding? Well sorry, do not fuck with me,” he said, referring to the rapporteur.
The country’s human rights record was raised at a UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva late February with Iceland Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson urging Manila on Monday to accept a visit from the UN Special Rapporteur.
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano later told the council that Manila was ready to cooperate, but also said the investigators should be fair and not “weaponize” human rights.
Duterte, who still enjoys wide popularity despite the concerns of rights activists, has previously rejected any call to investigate his rights record.
In his speech, he told a crowd of camouflage-garbed government troops, “it is not easy to run a government that is democratic”.
Leila pummels Alan
Senator Leila de Lima, meanwhile, scoffed at Cayetano, labeling him as the international spokesperson for a death squad government, for continuously defending the Duterte administration from charges of summary killings due to the war on drugs campaign.
De Lima scored Cayetano for telling the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), during a recent speaking engagement in Geneva, not to “politicize or weaponize” the issue of human rights in the Philippines saying that doublespeak will not work especially before any international investigating body.
“While their propaganda and fake news might work with the followers of Mocha Uson and DDS fanatics, they are fooling themselves if they think they can pull off the same doublespeak before UN country members of the Human Rights Council in Geneva,” the senator said.
The government, according to Cayetano, is willing to face investigation amid allegations of human rights violations under the government’s drug war if UN special rapporteurs strictly observe the special procedures code of conduct and methods of work and avoid politicizing the issue.
De Lima said Cayetano cannot escape accountability for his defense of the alleged mass murder in the Philippines that has now claimed 20,322 lives according to the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) latest body count.
The senator was referring to the reported number of deaths related to the anti-drugs campaign of the administration.
“The irony in Cayetano’s propaganda to the world about the Duterte regime being a victim of ‘weaponized’ human rights advocacy is that it is precisely this propaganda that makes him (President Duterte) a candidate for prosecution in the ICC (International Criminal Court),” she said.
“Ironically again, while in the Philippines the human rights defenders are the voice in the wilderness, in the UN and the international community, it is Cayetano and the regime he represents that are the outcasts. Already, Iceland has put the motion before the UNHRC for the investigation of Duterte. On top of this is the ICC prosecutor’s conduct of its preliminary examination on the Philippine situation,” de Lima added.
Charges of crimes against humanity has been filed before the ICC by lawyer Jude Sabio as well as Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano.
The ICC, several weeks ago, announced that it has taken its first formal step in taking up the complaint against Duterte as it will now start its preliminary examination on the alleged crimes committed since July 1, 2016 in the context of the war on drugs campaign.
De Lima said that the more Cayetano defends the President and the administration before the world, the more he buries himself internationally together with his principal.
“The problem with Cayetano is that he and his media strategists, a.k.a. propagandists and spinmasters, do not distinguish between local and international audiences,” she said.
“The world is indeed getting smaller for Cayetano and his boss. And it is a world that cannot be fooled by Cayetano’s amateur propaganda. Quite the opposite. Every recording of his speeches find themselves in international archives, whether at the UN or the ICC,” de Lima further said.
The senator said the President might escape the reckoning at the ICC by virtue of an early death.
“(But) I doubt the same will be true to Cayetano. He is young and has many years ahead of him, years that will be used by the ICC to haul him off to The Hague to answer for his complicity in the deaths of thousands of civilians,” she said.
“When that time comes, Cayetano’s media strategists won’t be there to help him. It is their own spinning that will pin him


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