Binay camp debunks DA over rice self-sufficiency claim
Ghio Ong, Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - February 3, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay debunked yesterday Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala’s claim that the Philippines has achieved 97 percent rice self-sufficiency since President Aquino took office in 2010.

Joey Salgado, media affairs chief of the Office of the Vice President, called the government’s rice self-sufficiency program a failure.

Alcala earlier said that from 81 percent rice sufficiency in 2010, the Aquino administration was able to improve rice production by 97 percent, or an increase of 18 million metric tons (MMT).

Salgado said Alcala failed to mention that the country imported 1.787 MMT of rice last year, the biggest in the last five years.

Salgado said the Philippines imported 1.7 MMT in 2014.

“Where is the rice self-sufficiency Secretary Alcala is bragging about? It appears that the good secretary is oblivious to the truth,” he said.

Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Binay’s spokesman said the country’s total palay production for last year only reached around 18.86 MMT, 1.22 MMT short of the national target of 20.08 MMT and 0.6 percent lower than the 2014 output of 18.97 MMT.

“The sad truth is that while more than 40 percent of Filipinos are in agriculture, the sector has barely grown in the past six years. From 2011 to 2015, the agricultural sector only grew by 1.6 percent,” Salgado said.

He said since the Philippines remains to be an agricultural country, this sector should have a large contribution to the economy.

However, Salgado noted that the poorest Filipinos belong to this sector.

“Secretary Alcala’s thinking that our farmers, who are starving and wallowing in poverty, are ‘sexy’ is another example of the insensitivity of this administration,” he said.

Binay has been advocating the removal of irrigation service fees imposed on farmers.

Ifugao gov backs Binay

Meanwhile, Ifugao Gov. Dennis Habawel is backing the presidential bid of Binay, vowing to give the opposition party’s standard bearer a bulk of the votes from the so-called “Solid North.”

Habawel, a member of the Nacionalista Party (NP), has formally declared his support for Binay, according to United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) secretary general JV Bautista.

The “Solid North” reportedly has a voting population of five million.

Habawel said Binay is the most qualified to respond to various concerns, including problems on poverty, hunger, education and healthcare.

“It was not difficult for me to make the decision to help Vice President Binay capture Malacañang because he is one of our own. He will be the first president, God willing, who will come from the ranks of the indigenous people’s group,” Habawel said.

UNA will adopt Habawel as its official candidate in Ifugao province, Bautista said.

Bautista said the groundswell of support for Binay continues to gain momentum as another governor from the Cordillera Administrative Region is expected to join UNA in the next few days.

Cicero Lumauig, UNA provincial coordinator for Ifugao, said eight out of 11 mayors are with Habawel.

They are Ronnie Lumayna of Mayoyao, Gerry Dalipog of Banawe, Gaspar Chilagan of Aguinaldo, Marcelino Catalino of Tinok, Martin Habawel Jr. of Lagawe, Mariano Buyagawon of Lamut, Gerry Luglug of Hingyon and Hilario Bumangabang of Hungduan.

UNA said that in the municipality of Lagawe, the contenders, incumbent Vice Mayor Habawel and Gadfrey Duminong of UNA, are both supporting Binay. Eladio Bang-ud, who is running for mayor in Asipulo town, is supporting Binay.

Alfonso Lista Mayor Arsenio Humiding will be adopted by UNA, said Lumauig.

Former Government Service Insurance System president Winston Garcia, who is running for Cebu governor, announced Monday that One Cebu party will back the candidacy of Binay.

Meanwhile, Sen. Nancy Binay downplayed the claim of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that the libel case filed against him by former Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. was meant to intimidate and prevent him from making more allegations against her family.  – With Marvin Sy


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