VIETNAM’S rice prices surged last month from an eight year-low recorded in August. The price surge came from, you guessed it right, jumbo orders from the Philippines. The National Food Authority (NFA) ordered an initial round of 750,000 metric tons and said that it might import more. From an eight year-low the price of Vietnamese rice (five percent broken) climbed to $360 per metric ton.
Plus the smuggled rice, from sources other than Vietnam and Thailand, it is safe to say that more than 2 million metric tons of rice have been entering the country – legally and otherwise – to fill a huge supply gap each year for the past few years.
Yet, the official version is altogether an alternative universe. The Philippines, with a grand rice culture tradition, is now a prodigious rice producer, and is poised to recover its earlier status as a rice exporter. The Alcala-Aquino Bros have been feeding the official line of “ self-sufficiency.” The projection of “sufficient production” started in 2012, after a supposedly “bumper crop” in 2011. It got a bigger media play the following year. It became part of presidential speeches, this historic quest for rice self-sufficiency getting fulfillment under the competent government of Mr. Aquino.
But as we now all realize, what are proclaimed as great strides for the country, epic moments under Mr. Aquino, have no real world applications. Instead we have these Orwellian state of things.
IMPORTATION IS SELF-SUFFICIENCY !
SHORTFALLS ARE BUMPER HARVESTS!
FARMERS FIND BLISS IN FOOD IMPORTS!
And this incredulous spin to our reckless importations: WE INFLUENCE THE GLOBAL GRAINS MARKET!
George Orwell, if he were writing today, will have a grand time chronicling the Aquino government’s foibles and phoniness.
But what about this? TRAFFIC IS PROGRESS!
Traffic is progress, by way of backgrounder, was not an Orwellian formulation. It was the initial proud analysis of the Aquino administration on the “whys and wherefores” of the traffic gridlocks in Metro Manila. The steady march of progress under Mr. Aquino, according to the administration, is demonstrated by the surging car sales, in which a 25 percent sales increase year-on-year is not even considered outstanding. Cars that jam EDSA and other major and minor roads with no relief in sight are the by-products of a surging economy.
But then that was not the whole story. Mr. Aquino did not build the environment for booming car sales.
The new kids on the car-buying block, those who buy the dangerous sub-compacts (without airbags and other protection) that sell a little over P500,000 per unit, are mostly BPO workers, which Philippine operations had Mr. Ramos as the main architect. The BPO operations gained great strides under Mrs. Arroyo. If at all, Mr. Aquino just gained from the hard work of two former presidents. The BPO is poised to earn $26 billion in 2016 and Mr. Aquino may take victory runs for that. But he had very little to do with the growth of the BPO and the creation of an enthusiastic breed of new car buyers.
The second pillar of the car-buying sector is the OFW sector. The OFW program was a brainchild of Ka Blas Ople. Her daughter Toots, now running for the Senate, continued her father’s work via protecting the welfare and rights of the OFWs. Sons and daughters of privilege like Mr. Aquino have no skin in the game in the amazing OFW stories of ordinaries Filipinos.
As he surveyed the Dickensian misery and sorrow in the Yolanda-ravaged Eastern Visayas a few days back, Mr. Aquino lashed back at his critics who have called him heartless for neglecting the vulnerable, the Exhibit A of which are the Yolanda victims. Mr. Aquino said he cared and his heart beats for those caught up in life’s many tragedies.
Let us check-fact Mr. Aquino on that and look at the gist of the report filed by the Chaloka Beyani, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons. The gist:
The transition shelters for the Yolanda victims lacked water, sanitation facilities and electricity, which is worse than living in a doghouse. The chow-chows of Mr. Aquino’s KKK may thrive in air-conditioned comfort but for the disposed human beings of Yolanda a basic roof was enough.
Two thousand families, according to the UN report, still lives in tens and shanties.
The promised mass granting of jobs never came.
Food packages have been discontinued. Of the 200,000 permanent housing units committed, only 21 percent have been completed.
Orwell would have a quick take on the Dickensian sorrow.
MISERY IS HEAVEN! NEGLECT IS LOVE!
SUB-HUMAN LIVING CONDITIONS ARE LIBERATING !
Mr. Aquino’s administration, this time I borrow from Dickens, represents the best of times and the worst of times. The surge in the wealth of the Filipino dollar billionaires has been so spectacular that the Top 11 dollar billionaires in the country have the kind of wealth that surpasses what is collective owned by the 11 million Filipino families that are considered really, really poor and who suffer from involuntary hunger.
The combined wealth of the 10 richest Filipinos was P630 billion in 2010. In 2015, the wealth of the Top 10 skyrocketed to P2.2 trillion.
But don’t worry. Mr. Aquino will not forgo a good night’s sleep over that.
After all, HUNGER IS NUTRITIONAL. POVERTY IS HEAVEN.
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The traffic gridlocks at the Diliman/Katipunan areas are worse than EDSA’s but what does the UP management do? Restricting motorists, opening some gates late and closing them early, litter the campus with guards checking on anything with wheels.
We know that Mr. Pascual came out of some cozy cocoon and he has never heard of the phrase “sharing the burden of sacrifice.” But he is running a university that lives off public money. As such, he should not be a jerk.