I went to a meeting in Manila last Sunday and took the LRT. At the Doroteo Jose station, the huge tarpaulin of GMA — “Ramdam na ramdan ang kaunlaran” — has two fangs drawn on her mouth. Am sure Anthony Golez will not be happy about this. In the show of Ted Failon and Korina Sanchez, he claimed that GMA is the only President who did a lifestyle check on her Cabinet. Hellow!? Liar, liar pants on fire! Even Ferdinand Marcos was already doing that in the 1980s. Kawawa naman ang gobyernong ito. GMA did everything that Marcos did — and never succeeded. No guts, no glory, no originality. — Danton
On reports that inflation hit 11.4 percent in June, the highest in 14 years, Malacañang said the price surge was expected and the government is looking at measures to soften its impact.
Is looking at measures? What kind of statement was that? Do they mean to tell us they were twiddling their thumbs all the while when the signs have long pointing at the approaching perfect storm of surging fuel and food prices?
The Palace said among the measures are a stepped-up program to expand production to answer the food problem and energy conservation, tapping of alternative energy sources and intensified search for oil in response to runaway global crude prices.
Let’s look at these proposed measures to ease the impact of spiraling fuel cost. Conservation of energy will come by itself and not through government effort. With gas at P60 a liter, there will be fewer private vehicles on the road. Public utility vehicles will have to rationalize their operations, plying their routes only when assured of full capacity (no more empty buses careening on EDSA during off-rush hours). Households and business will also be forced to cut costs as a matter of survival.
The Palace should not promise the people pie in the sky in the form of biofuels, solar and wind powered generating plants which will take years to put in place and at a probably higher cost than hydrocarbon-based energy sources.
Food production, on the other hand, is indeed quickly responsive to expansion of areas under irrigation, introduction of high-yielding seeds and liberal use of fertilizers and insecticides. Rice has a cycle of three months from planting to harvest. So bigger investment in farms now will yield dividends in a relatively short time.
Is the government putting extra-ordinary efforts to boost food output? The way we are hearing it from Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, rice production is no longer a problem. The last summer harvest was bigger than last year’s. The main October harvest is expected to post another record-breaking yield. But didn’t we hear the same thing sometime in March just before prices of rice shot up from P24 to P34 a kilo?
The public needs convincing. Instead of admitting the country faces a crisis, the first step toward crafting a workable response, the Arroyo, however, continues to live in the never never land where “ramdam na ramdam ang kaunlaran.”
We need a 180-degree turn on how we will surmount the crisis. Let’s forget about grandiose blueprints on how to pole vault to First World status in 2020. Let us first ensure that our people can fill their stomachs. We succeed in licking hunger, pulling ourselves by the bootstraps to the status of a developed country will follow as a matter of course.