Press Release
July 23, 2009

Press statement of Senator Loren Legarda

Vigilance against no-el needed

Our countrymen must take note of the warning issued by former defense secretary Avelino Cruz that the administration may declare martial law or resort to other extra-constitutional means to perpetuate itself in power.

Being the former lawyer and chief legal adviser of the President, Mr. Cruz should know whereof he speaks, considering his long association with the powers that be. He may also have an accurate reading of the pulse and leanings of this administration.

Still, even without Mr. Cruz's admonition, our people must be vigilant against any and all efforts to cancel elections next year because this administration had certainly tried to shelve the exercise by way of charter change. We must not lower our guard.

On more transparent rice tender

It was good that the rice tender held by the Philippine government this week was more transparent and well reported by the media. With the tenders of the nine competing companies made known to the public, the problem of the lack of information that attended last year's procurement by the Philippines of 1.5 million metric tons of rice from Vietnam MAY be avoided.

While some traders worry that the tender may jack up prices, citing the speculation-driven hike in prices last year, the procurement by the government of rice for the lean season is a judgment call of the executive that must be respected.

On the short term, we must ensure an ample rice supply, even if we have to resort to importations. But on the long term, we must strive to become 100 percent rice sufficient so there won't be any need to import rice and be at the mercy of international price fluctuations.

After meeting 100 percent of our rice needs, we must then work to export rice ourselves.

Protect, don't just vote for Palawan river

I urge all Filipinos not only to vote for the inclusion of the Palawan subterranean river into the list of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, but to tell all the world about the beauty and ecological importance of what is the longest underground navigable river in the world. Already declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the underground river in Puerto Princesa has already made the final selection phase, along with 27 other ecological sites, from over 440 participants worldwide.

By trumpeting the importance of the subterranean river through internet blogs, chats and websites, Filipinos can entice the people of the world to vote for the Palawan river. For starters, we can link to the voting website at to make it easier for people to vote.

But let us also help efforts by Mayor Edward Hagedorn and the national government to protect Puerto Princesa's wondrous ecological sites, including the limiting of visitors to the underground river to 250 persons a day and to ensure non-interference with the habitat in the area of several threatened species like the Palawan Pheasant Peacock and Philippine Cockatoo.

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