Saturday, May 3, 2008

THE GRAIN HEADACHE: Musing on the Philippine Rice Crisis (Part IV)

Indeed a good break it was for me when our President GM Arroyo visited the International Research Institute. The visit concerned the signing of a certain memorandum between IRRI and the Department of Agriculture that aims to accelerate the rice production in the country in the face of the too-much-mentioned rice crisis. Well personally I believe it wasn’t just all for a show because the government should really act in response to the nation’s pressing problems. (One point plus.)
As usual, owing to the seeming inherent Filipino Time in each Pinoy, the President came a bit late of the appointed time. But all complains were extinguished when it was announced that she has finally arrived. I could not help but laugh when the audience kept on asking where the President was. Heck, what would you expect from a very short person? (Of course their view was being blocked by the taller guys all around her!) She was a number of feet away from us; viewing certain varieties of rice I know nothing of and then proceeded with the symbolic giving of the three new rice varieties to three farmers: 2 ladies and a man by the name of Diosdado.
After all these boring procedures the formal ceremony commenced with Dr. Ziegler, the Director General of IRRI, giving his opening message. His voice was really something; I mean I just felt that I was listening to a radio program. He thanked the Philippine government for the continued collaboration with their institute on rice research and production and helping each other out improve the lives of the farmers and with the present crisis do the necessary steps in overcoming this.
Then the DA Secretary manned the rostrum and talked of how well the Department has worked well in advancing the need of the agriculture sector, especially the things concerning rice. Well from him I learned that we are in fact producing more rice than the foremost rice exporter Thailand but left me wondering where in the name of the world are all our rice going if that is the case. Anyway, my mind drifted away as he seemed to me just explicating their past successes and mostly due to already searing heat.
Then came the memorandum signing with president witnessing it. After that? NOTHING. As in NOTHING. I was not quite surprised when I had the same reaction with the other people there. Why the president didn’t even give a speech or anything? I thought it quite awkward for her being there without even uttering a word, even of encouragement to the people to hold on or perhaps talk of the present steps the government is undertaking to overcome the crisis. Not even a simple hello? said friend of mine. Well, well, well. I was quite star-strucked at the time that I am just realizing all these things just now.
I shook hands with her mainly for the reason that I haven’t done that before although I have seen her for many times now (when she was still a vice-president wit her oh-so-beautiful car and when he was already a president following the overthrow of Erap from the position). I took pictures of her which I hope to put up here soon. But all these celebrity-type of dealings do not erase in me the contempt that I personally have about the cloud of legality of her present position and the issues haunting her departments and her tenure as a whole. Essentially none of them has been resolved yet and I think she better do something about it. It doesn’t mean that since it’s already nearing 2010, all things (pesticides stuffs, election fraud, foreign deals issues, etc.) will be forgotten just like that. Such a public office entails accountability to the people.

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