Press Release
June 2, 2008


Saying that the country cannot afford an outbreak of war in Mindanao, Senator Mar Roxas called on the government to immediately launch a rice and food emergency plan for Mindanao to mitigate the impact of soaring rice and food prices on poor communities.

"This is a food supply problem with national security dimensions. It is much more than just an isolated food riot by disgruntled consumers," he stressed, warning that failure to act now can result in further instability, with rebels taking advantage of a vacuum in the peace talks.

Roxas said the government should resume peace talks in Mindanao, to work for peace in areas where the planting of rice has been impeded by conflict. He said the "vicious cycle of hunger and conflict" must be stopped now.

Commercial rice prices in Mindanao, considered as the country's food basket, have soared to record highs of up to P51 per kilo, triggering long queues at National Food Authority (NFA) outlets there. There were also incidents of food line riots in some areas, like in Digos City, Davao del Sur last week.

"The rice crisis has hit nationwide, but Mindanao must be treated as a special area of concern due to its long history of conflict and strife. It deserves its own cohesive and comprehensive survival plan backed by resources for emergency employment, fertilizers and other farming inputs for farming communities," the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce said.

Roxas, the Liberal Party President, also called for the opening up of the Agusan river delta basin, which is ideal for planting rice.

"The Agusan river delta basin is similar to the Vietnamese river delta basin, and using this for rice planting may be a big step in our achieving rice self-sufficiency by 2010, as the government purports to achieve," he said.

"So far, we have been unable to make the best use of what we have, and this includes the key areas in Mindanao. Now is the best time to maximize our resources, and give our people the best chance to produce what we need," he added.

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