Press Release
March 24, 2008



Senator Mar Roxas warned that the country may be in for a "perfect storm" without a concrete survival plan, as he expressed concern over rising oil and rice prices, a recession in the United States, a global food shortage and its effects on the people's purchasing power.

Roxas, the Liberal Party President, noted that aside from the looming food crisis, Filipinos are also confronted with high oil prices aggravated by a possible slowdown in dollar remittances from Filipinos in the United States.

"No one among us would like to see such ominous clouds forming, but the reality is that we are in for rough times and we must face these threats truthfully and courageously as a nation," the Chairman of the Senate Trade and Commerce Committee said.

"The US is faced with two quarters of negative growth which would have a direct impact on dollar remittances from that country. This in turn could reduce consumption in the Philippines which is one of the key drivers of our economy. We have before us a perfect storm of high oil prices, a rice crisis, and a slowdown in dollars and investments from the US," Roxas pointed out.

The Senator said that instead of pointing fingers at each other, the President can convene the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) so that remedial measures can be agreed on by both the executive and legislative branches of government.

"Bakit di natin pag-usapan ang mga panukala sa House at Senado ukol sa pansamantalang pagtanggal ng 12% EVAT sa mga produktong petrolyo," he said, but noted that while oil prices worldwide were due to external circumstances, this was not the case for rice.

Roxas said the government must not lay the blame on external factors in dealing with the high prices and more expensive imports for rice, since this problem, and its solution, could be found within the country.

"Ang ugat ng problema ay nandito sa atin, hindi sa labas. Tayo po ay nagtatanim ng ating sariling palay. Ang lupain natin ang siyang ginagamit sa pagsasaka nitong palay," Roxas, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce, stressed.

"Kung kulang ang supply, kailangan na ang Department of Agriculture, National Food Authority, National Irrigation Administration at iba pang ahensiya ng gobyerno, ay magbigay ng lunas o solusyon sa kakulangang ito," he said.

"Kung sinasabi nila na ang problema ay nasa labas, inaamin na ba ng gobyerno na hindi na natin kayang tugunan ang ating pangangailangan sa bigas? Inaamin na ba ng gobyerno na ang policy nila ay gawing mas mahal ang bigas?" he said.

"Ini-import natin ng 100% ang langis, kase wala talaga tayong langis dito. Pero ang bigas, ang palay, ay dito mismo tinatanim. Ngunit palaki ng palaki ang ating ini-import. Sa laki ng ginagastos natin sa agriculture, sa irrigation at sa iba pa, bakit pababa ng pababa ang ating self-sufficiency sa kanin?" Roxas said.

Roxas has already urged the following: to release local government units' (LGU) calamity funds to be used for assisting farmers in planting and harvesting rice crops to increase domestic supply; to direct LGUs to establish a food security early warning system; to reactivate the peace process in conflict areas so as to ensure unimpeded cultivation, planting, tending and harvesting of crops; and to create special investigative and prosecutorial teams to go after rice hoarders and those diverting NFA rice for commercial purposes.

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