Unli-rice until gone
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - February 20, 2019 - 12:00am

In the beginning, people said Bong Go would never make it as a Senator especially because he did not even make it to the magic 12 or possible 16 during the early surveys. When people asked me, I often told them that Bong Go will make it to the top 6 just like his boss Duterte and Nancy Binay. I was confident that the initial “Low” placement was simply to put Bong Go’s name on the list. In fact, I was sure that the slow crawl of Bong Go up the charts was tactical because his handlers did not want him to rise to start strong as that would surely draw the Duterte haters in numbers and could jeopardize Go’s run.

More than any candidate, Bong Go already had presence just from the number of “Selfies” and photo bombs he had with President Duterte. He had such high exposure and his perceived closeness or possible influence clearly won or earned the healthy respect of local and national politicians all of whom ask him to carry a message or request to Duterte. The last thing the local politicians would want is to be pinpointed as an area where Bong Go lost especially since Duterte still has a few years in office. Finally, Duterte’s endorsement is already half the battle won. So Bong Go coming out as No. 6 or even 3 in the survey and elections won’t surprise me!

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The rice tariffication law promises to bring down the price of rice and open the floodgates to imported rice so that we will never have to worry about rice shortage again. Such a populist move will certainly win approval from consumers and vendors alike and sound like the perfect solution we have all been waiting for. On the other hand it may turn out to be one of those deals “That’s too good to be true.”  Duterte and Congress may have power over the economy and making laws, but do they have the power to control the weather and environment that dictate the outcome of regional and global rice production and supply? Are they God who determines famine or plenty?

I have repeatedly written about a time during the Gloria administration when economic managers opted to adopt a policy of “Buy Rice instead of planting rice because it’s cheaper.” It worked for a while until the regional rice merchants ended up unable to supply our demand because the weather and food security concerns forced other nations not to sell their rice! Under such circumstance it will only be the rich and powerful of Metro Manila and Davao who will have the money to buy the scarce supply. Maybe that will be a blessing in disguise when unli rice is gone because that might bring down diabetes, obesity and only those who made money from the deals will have unli rice until they die, hopefully sooner than later!

As the acoustic war over rice tariffication hits full volume, what is very clear to me is that government officials have done nothing but sell us a promise, but not a clear cut plan that includes a plan or program for the continued productivity and profit for Filipino rice farmers. Why is it that sugar barons and hacienderos have some form of financial incentive or protection or means to earn money from government but no one is talking about financial and economic protection for affected rice farmers?  If we give squatters cash doleouts why are we not talking about regular cash grants for rice farmers so they would continue in their role for our food security? Another glaring blunder of the rice tariffication law is how it obliterated the NFA to the point that no one will be safeguarding the supply, price and conduct of business for rice. Are we to assume that this responsibility will once again be passed on to the already over burdened Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)?

A word of caution to the impatient and the greedy: You are not God and in the words of former President Joseph Estrada; “Hungry mouths knows no law.”

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While Secretary Cimatu and the DENR officials are all obsessed with the Battle for Manila Bay, could we ask a little bit of their time to please look into the dust bowls that companies such as DMCI may have unintentionally created in the course of digging up multi-level parking garages for their high-rise condominiums. On the back end of Barrio Kapitolyo in Pasig, DMCI is in the process of building a condominium project and spent several months digging and trucking out adobe and soil. Like clockwork they also pour concrete in some areas and all these has created a perpetual dust trail that spreads out far and wide due to vehicular and human traffic. On one occasion I’ve seen a bunch of men sweep the accumulated dirt and dust on the sidewalks around the project but never beyond their perimeter.

Yesterday a long “train” of cement mixers and concrete pumps surrounded the project site and I have no doubt that anyone who will follow the path of those mixers will surely find concrete slurry splashed or dumped along the road or sidewalk canals. This situation is not limited to DMCI but can be observed even in the nearby Rockwell Vantage project where construction workers often litter on the road surrounding their project. Unfortunately our barangay officials seem to be clueless or have simply gotten used to the dust in the air we breathe. There is no stopping progress and development, but developers and project managers must have a sense of responsibility before problems arise. DMCI, Rockwell Please clean up your mess, ask or pay the local fire department or some local company to wash down the sidewalks! They are public property and not and extension of your premises!

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Email: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

BONG GO RICE
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