In this report off the Reuters wire and posted by the ABS-CBN website, Mar Roxas reveals that he has fully embraced the nonsensical, say-anything, pandering style of his partner Noynoy Aquino, and made this rather ludicrous assertion concerning the near-perpetual problem of the Philippines’ rice shortfall:
No rice imports under Aquino-Roxas admin
Reuters | 03/22/2010 5:05 PM
MANILA, Philippines – The leading ticket in opinion polls for the Philippines’ presidency will immediately stop rice imports and boost the local farm sector if voted in at the May elections, vice-presidential candidate Manuel Roxas said on Monday.
The Philippines is the world’s biggest rice buyer, importing around 10% of its annual needs. Its 2010 imports already stand at a record 2.45 million tonnes, including 200,000 tonnes to be brought in by private firms.
“It’s important that we Filipinos feed ourselves, that we become self-sufficient. Under an Aquino-Roxas administration, we will immediately stop importing rice,” Senator Roxas said in a statement.
Roxas is the running mate of opposition Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino. Both lead surveys of independent pollsters ahead of the May 10 national elections.
In the Philippines, the president and vice-president are elected separately by voters, so candidates from two different parties can be elected to the posts.
Roxas, a former Wall Street banker and the grandson of a former president, said funds for rice imports should be directed towards more credit facilities for farmers to improve output and to boost farm irrigation systems.
The Philippines has been targeting self-sufficiency in its staple food by 2013, but its rice harvest shrunk more than 3% last year due to typhoon damage. It was the first drop in rice output since 1998, prompting Manila to advance 2010 imports.
This year, drier-than-usual weather due to El Nino has parched many Philippine farmlands, raising the possibility of more rice imports.
Wait, what? Mar, I used to think you were a reasonably level-headed guy, but a grade-schooler could tell this idea just doesn’t add up. According to a report found elsewhere on ABS-CBN’s website, the government is already forecasting an 8% reduction in the domestic rice harvest for the first half of 2010. Although no guesses are made for the latter half of the year, weather conditions and the setbacks they have created being what they are now, it is difficult to make a reasonable assumption that circumstances will improve so greatly from June onward as to make up the shortfall. So let’s do a little math on this one, shall we?
* According to this report, the Philippines already imports about 10% of its needs.
* The rice harvest is expected to be a further 8% behind normal production.
* That means, in rough terms, a total shortfall of about 18%.
* 18% not being produced by the Philippines means IT HAS TO BE IMPORTED.
Mar Roxas says the solution is to “immediately stop importing rice.”
Obviously, food security is a critical issue for the country and the reliance on imported rice should be replaced with improved domestic production. But the way to go about solving that problem is not, in the middle of a punishing drought and an unstable political climate, to simply drop imports and then work on figuring out how to replace them.
With regard to Mar Roxas the Vice-Presidential candidate, this can only mean one of two things: either he’s stupid, or he seriously believes the rest of us are. If I had to guess, considering the reaction his running mate had to the recent New York Times article about Hacienda Luisita, I’d say we have until about Wednesday before Senator Roxas and his LP cronies start comprehensively back-pedaling on this one.