Rice Crisis News Monitor

This is the last and final installment of Rice Crisis News Monitor.
This installment includes only three 3 statements.

Thank you for the patience and for taking the time to read some of the news, information, facts and figures and for using them  in trying to understanding the issue that affects the majority of the people in the Philippines, peasants and farmers, hunger and poverty, and imperialist globalization and semi feudalism.

For BAYAN USA, Los Angeles, CA
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News Release
April 13, 2008

Reference: Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, chairman, KMP and president, ANAKPAWIS party list

“Increase in NFA rice price may be the last straw for Gloria!”-KMP

Militant peasants reiterate that there is no need for NFA rice increase.

The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) warned Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that her regime’s planned increase in the price of National Food Authority (NFA) rice may be the last straw that would lead to massive protest actions to oust her for power.

According to Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, chairman of KMP and concurrent president of ANAKPAWIS party list “ the plan of Malacanang , the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the NFA to increase the price of NFA rice may be the trigger that would ignite the Filipino masses to flock to the streets and oust Gloria. The corruptions scandals are still fresh in peoples’ memories and they still want justice to be served add to this the fact that they are slowly being starved by this regime, then that would spell disaster for Gloria,”

“Hungry people are angry people; this is very basic if Gloria and her cohorts are going to take away the staple of Filipinos, then they are in for a lot of trouble. They should also not use us peasants as their justification for increasing rice prices. Let us remind this regime that the NFA was formed to ensure the food stock of our country and it is not a business venture, by increasing the price of NFA rice the ones who will benefit are the landlords, the rice cartel and unscrupulous traders while farmers and consumers are at the losing end. The NFA should not apply the rule of thumb that traders are using in buying palay that is doubling its price when converted into rice. The NFA is not a rice trader,” said Mariano.

“Besides it is not bad economics to shoulder the staple food of your people so that they can work better. What the NFA is not saying is how long will they buy palay at P17 and if they have a budget for it. Another point is that in reality the NFA only buys 1% of the total rice production in the country, so the ones who has the supply eg. the rice cartel controls the market and the price. The solution does not lie on increased NFA market participation to 50% but in placing a rice price control mechanism as well as an increase in productivity of farms and at least a 25% increase in NFA local rice procurement,” added the peasant leader.

“We will do everything we can to stop another round of increases in rice prices especially that of NFA rice. In fact many formations have already been formed to monitor rice prices and other issues concerning agriculture, we will continue to strengthen these groups so that the Filipino people will have an ally in defending their right to have affordable food,” ended Mariano. # # #

Students: There is no food because of government theft
April 10, 2008
Press Release
“If the Arroyo government would only stop stealing the people’s money, then there would be ‘food on our tables, computers in our classrooms and health clinics in our barangays.”
This was the response made by Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of youth group League of Filipino Students (LFS) to the statement made by Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who lashed out at her critics yesterday for continued investigations and ‘political jockeying.’
“It has become the strategy of Arroyo to put the blame on her critics for the problems that the country faces instead of admitting that it is the result of her lopsided policies and projects. Doesn’t she remember that her administration mismanaged P729 million in fertilizer funds allegedly to boost her ticket’s campaign in the 2004 elections?” said Crisostomo.
The LFS, along with other youth groups trooped to the NFA rolling store in the Commonwealth Market today to explain to the people buying rice at the area that the present rice problem is the result of past and present government policies on food security.
Bringing empty plates, pots and pans that bore their slogans calling for and end to “rice cartels” and for the government to control the rising cost of rice, the students went to the NFA rolling store in Commonwealth, Quezon City to stage a noise barrage.
“This is not just political noise as Arroyo’s cohorts make of these actions. We want the government to hear the people who are hungry because they cannot afford the cost of food in the market,” said Crisostomo.
The youth groups said that today’s action is part of Beat the Break, the summer campaign of Youth for Truth and Accountability and Truth Now (Youth Act Now!) a broad alliance of student councils, publications and organizations formed to consolidate the youth demanding the truth about anomalous government projects such as the aborted ZTE-National Broadband Network. ###
Reference:
Ron Villegas, Vice-chairperson, League of Filipino Students, ronvil@gmail.com, 09154943120

News Release
April 10, 2007

Reference: Berna Ellorin, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email: secgen@bayanusa.org

GMA’s Measures on Rice Crisis Won’t Work, Promotes Starvation
Fil-Ams Call on Arroyo to Control the Price of Rice in the Philippines

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of over 12 Filipino organizations in the US, criticized the Arroyo government for lifting the 300,000 metric ton (MT) rice quota for foreign traders as a measure to resolve the growing rice crisis. It also called on Arroyo to control the rising price of rice throughout the country and foreign trading rice cartels.

Rice is the staple food for over 86 million Filipinos and other countries in the world. This problem will affect over half the world’s population because of the global neoliberal trade framework,” states Chito Quijano, Chair of BAYAN USA.

Known for its picturesque rice terraces, the Philippines has produced quality rice as a major export for decades. But low productivity due to a backwards agricultural sector and neoliberal trade policies that enforce land conversion have left the rice-exporting country dependent on foreign rice to feed its local population.

The Philippines has now been dependent on rice importation from neighboring countries such as Vietnam and Thailand, who are also suffering there own respective rice crises. Because of uncontrollable demand overseas, both countries are placing restrictions on its rice export to prioritize local consumption. The overall food crisis has sparked rice riots and militarized rice cartels throughout the Asia-Pacific region, where rice hoarding is now taking place.

“Pretty soon, our families in the US will be sending home bags of rice in our balikbayan boxes because our relatives can no longer afford rice in the market,” Quijano added.

The Arroyo government’s response has been to lift the existing quota on rice imports and further liberalize rice importation for foreign traders, minimizing the local government’s ability to intervene on behalf of the local population.

“This won’t solve the problem because it ignores the deeper problem of the agricultural sector. Without due industrialization of the agricultural sector, the problem won’t go away, but will be aggravated. In fact, giving more power to foreign traders will make the price of rice skyrocket, and the Filipino people, without any spending power, will starve,” Quijano added.

In the past month alone, the price of food products in the Philippines have skyrocketed over 8%, according to independent the think tank IBON Philippines. According to the National Food Authority, even the price of local rice in the Philippines will most likely increase from it’s current P18.25 per kilo peg. This is leaving the predominantly impoverished Filipino population with limited options for basic sustenance.

BAYAN USA criticizes that the Arroyo government can’t be relied upon to advocate on behalf of the Filipino people’s needs anymore, but will instead implement policies that will only serve itself and its cronies.

The alliance emphasized the importance of more Filipino-Americans educating themselves about the Philippine rice crisis on a nationwide scale, as the crisis is a major contributor to heightening political instability in the Philippines and for their loved ones back home.

“The less food there is in the Philippines, the more the Arroyo government will turn to overseas Filipinos for an economic solution,” Quijano added.

But massive hunger also breeds widespread desire for social and political change in any country.

“Arroyo’s past corruption is still at play. Many of her so-called national projects that hoarded billions in public funds were all schemes to for her cronies to pocket the money. Those funds could have been used to genuinely improve the agricultural sector and set the Philippines in the right path towards food self-sufficiency,” Quijano ended. ###

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