Rice solution is no rocket science

The rice issue once again came to the fore in the weekly City Council Media Hour yesterday. Present as guests were Councilors Edgar Ibuyan (Committee on Labor & Employment), Tomas Monteverde IV (Committee on Social Services & Development) and myself.

For the second time during the past week, I tried to re-focus the discussions on the rice crisis from the “band-aid” solutions being undertaken today to the more important long-term solutions to food self-sufficiency.

Last Saturday, I was the guest at dxAB of ABS-CBN and I hammered on the need to put food security at the top of the national agenda, including those of the media. Unfortunately, the same petty questions were being raised by our colleagues in the media. Why are the queue lines at NFA outlets remain? What happened to the NBI investigations against rice hoarders? Can special outlets be designated for this or that sector? etc.

Well, spending all our time to discuss these issues will not help solve the rice crisis in the long term.

What we should be discussing now, or more appropriately, be doing right now, is the one and only solution to the rice crisis – to plant more rice.

I told the listeners at dxAB and repeated it yesterday that the solution to the rice crisis is not rocket science. I cited at least five key points, which are all common sense – expand rice and corn lands and protect them from conversion; build infrastructures such as irrigation and post harvest facilities; train our farmers on new technologies, including organic farming; provide them with easy credit; and impose tariff on imported competition.

If the whole nation concentrate on these things, with the help of the media in defining the national agenda, I am sure we can reach the Masagana 99 period when the country became a surplus producer of rice instead of being today’s No. 1 rice importer in the world.

Trouble is the national government has other priorities – like, for instance, going on a junket to the US! Yup (i.e. yes and no pun to Arthur Yap), the country’s rice czar has tagged along with the Malacanang gang in this trip instead of addressing the rice crisis.

5:50 a.m.

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Loan it is

At the City Council public hearing yesterday on the unreleased IRA, the city government has opted to take out a loan from the government-owned Land Bank of the Philippines.

This is the most advantageous option available.

The Provincial Board of Pangasinan is going the same way in collecting its P79 Million IRA differential.

What to do with P142 Million? Another reader has posted a comment. Please check the sidebar. He wants roads to be paved in his village.

6:03 a.m.

Update on Activities

Yesterday, I represented Mayor Rody Duterte at the opening of the new showroom of Canon Marketing (Philippines) at Bajada. The expanded sales and service center is proof of the imaging company’s growth in this part of the country. An executive from the company flew in from Singapore to grace the occasion. In my brief remarks, I said the city government adheres too in Canon’s philosophy – living and working together for the common good! Canon’s Philippine CEO Ramon Arteficio was somewhat surprised to hear these words from me. I told him I read it in their website. Canon’s Regional Head here is Nelson Perez. Visit them infront of the Davao City Water District.

Today, my office will host an orientation seminar on the Botika ng Barangay Project of the Department of Health. Last year, I partnered with DOH in helping 21 barangays set up their village pharmacies. The project does not only make affordable medicines available in communities but also help train BNB operators become entrepreneurs. DOH provides seed capital of P25,000 worth of medicines which the BNB must replenish with their sales. I am hoping another batch of beneficiary-barangays would be granted their BNB.

On Saturday, the National Coalition Against Child Labor in Commercial Agriculture will spearhead once again the marking of the World Day Against Child Labor in the city. I have been a permanent fixture in the activities of this coalition and so I was invited again to speak at its rally at the Almendras Gym. A march will precede the program from Rizal Park to the Gym.

7:26 a.m.

Poll update

Here’s the latest on our online poll:

And thanks to Dr. Arnel, a Davaoeno now in California, and Boy Cubillas for their comments and suggestions. Read them on comments section at the right sidebar.

6:50 a.m.

The City Council will not hold its regular session today. Instead, a number of us would attend a conference with the Philippine Reclamation Authority regarding the controversial baywalk project of Queensland along Times Beach and proposals to reclaim part of the city government’s property under water also in Times Beach.

Other members of the City Council will be at the public hearing on the IRA share (our online poll) and the proposed Supplemental Budget No. 1 approved on First Reading during our June 17 session.

7:23 a.m.

What to do with P142 Million?

Thanks to Nikki of the Mindanao Daily Mirror (Vote online and answer a P142 Million question), Erwin of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Davao councilor urges people to help decide in online vote) and Andrew of Alleba Politics (The national government owes us P142 Million). They helped spread the word about our online poll.

The City Council committee on Finance, Ways & Means, & Appropriation will hold a public hearing on this issue tomorrow at 9 a.m.

You might want to drop by to express your views, not just on how we should get the money but, more importantly, what to do with it.

Here’s one feedback sent to us by Frederick – see comments at Back online 4.

He suggests to unwire Davao and go Wimax!

5:18 a.m.

Gridlock

Traffic flow at the MacArthur Highway in Davao has eased since the new bridge at Bankerohan spanning the Davao River opened last week.

But there are still a number of choke points where our traffic enforcers need to be creative to solve the gridlock like those in the downtown areas of Bangoy St., CM Recto, JP Laurel and along the resto-bar row at F. Torres.

We’ve seen the dancing cops in Bangkok and spray-painters in Manila to help solve traffic woes.

Here are equally interesting ideas – cops on skates in Jakarta, and move over Kimipole position for cyclists at traffic lights in Australia.

7:12 a.m

Back online 5

Thank God there was no rain last night. Rains the previous week caused flashfloods in the city. Last night as Typhoon “Frank” (Fengshen) crossed the Visayas from western Pacific, strong winds swept through Davao.

This must be part of what they call as tail winds.

Davao is located in a typhoon-free zone. However, the winds last night were the strongest I ever experienced in five decades. No rain, just blast and blast of gusty wind the whole evening. It started to calm down now as the sun started to rise.

Here’s the latest satellite pic on Typhoon “Frank” from the weather bureau showing it packed winds of 140-170 kilometers per hour.

6:51 a.m.

Back online 4

I’m up early this morning to prepare for another busy day.

I will speak at the Davao Christian Leadership Breakfast Forum at 7 a.m. at the Grand Men Seng Hotel. This would be my sixth appearance at this fellowship attended by priests, pastors, laypeople and their guests.

I will discuss current issues confronting our consumers from food shortages, high prices, product standards and consumer rights.

After this forum, I will be off to Felis Beach Resort for the Mindanao Island Consultation for the upcoming Global Forum on Migration and Development which will be held in Manila in October. This regional consultation will be attended by civil society groups, while the global forum would be attended by UN member countries.

I would be wearing two hats in this meeting. First, to represent Mayor Rody Duterte during the opening rites, and Second, to participate as the official representative of Unlad Kabayan Migrant Services Foundation where I currently sit as Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Results of this island-wide consultation will be presented during the Manila global forum.

Yesterday, the City Council held a special session to discuss the monetization of part of the city’s Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) in 2001 and 2003. Due to the reenacted budgets of the national government during these two years, the city has a differential amounting to P142 million.

I presided the debates of the City Council on how best to get this sum. The national government is offering us two ways:

Option 1 is to get this money by seven installments starting May 2009 to May 2015; or

Option 2 is to get the P142 million now at a discounted rate of just 70 percent.

But during the discussion, we looked at another option – borrow money from Land Bank against this unreleased IRA share. That way, we get the whole amount and pay the interests from our regular IRA.

For lack of time, we decided in postponing the decision until the July 1 Regular Session. But, offhand, many of our colleagues are favoring the third option.

What do you think?

3:43 a.m.

Update – I added an online poll on my right sidebar – A P142 Million Question. Please vote!

5:49 a.m.