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Oct 24th
Home Columns Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. Philippine Senate Tackles Rice Crisis and Nine Other Issues
Philippine Senate Tackles Rice Crisis and Nine Other Issues PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - This Week With Nene Pimentel
Sunday, 20 April 2008 22:23

Minority Leader Aquilino “Nene” Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said he expects the issue of rice-and-other food sufficiency, the Cheaper Medicines Bill and the Archipelagic Baselines Bill to be among the top ten measures that the Senate will tackle as it resumes regular session Monday.

Senator Pimentel said the Senate will look at various measures proposed by the senators to solve the rice crisis, such as the setting of more irrigation systems and rehabilitation and repair of existing ones, providing more subsidy to rice farmers in terms of high-yielding palay, hybrid seeds, fertilizer, pesticide and post-harvest facilities and expanding the land areas for palay planting.

Mr. Pimentel said he finds merit in a Malacañang proposal to tap the Church and local government units in the direct selling of rice procured from foreign and local sources by the National Food Authority.Mr. Pimentel emphasized the state-subsidized NFA rice should mainly benefit poor families who cannot afford the highly-priced commercial rice.

“I favor direct selling by barangay operated units. They know the people of these communities. Of course, there should be no politics in meeting the rice needs of the people,” he said.

Senator Pimentel also stressed the importance of stepping up the campaign against hoarding and profiteering in the rice business by people with access to government offices having to do with rice trading.

“Finally, the government should restart the policy of production. That is the ultimate solution to the rice problem: self-sufficiency, not importation.”

Regarding the P43.7 billion food security plan recently announced by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Mr. Pimentel said the Senate is interested in two things – first, is there money available and if there is whether there is need for Congress to approve a supplemental budget. And second, the need to ensure that funds are spent fully on projects instead of being misused.

Senator Pimentel said he expects the Cheaper Medicines Bill to be approved now that the Senate and House panels in the bicameral conference committee appear to be ready to resolve the issue of whether to require doctors to prescribe generics drugs only to patients.

The compromise that is shaping up in the bicameral panel is for allowing doctors to write the commercial brands of medicines alongside their generic equivalents.

On the Archipelagic Baselines Bill, Mr. Pimentel urged the Senate to support his position to adopt entirely the House version of the bill authored by Cebu Rep. Antonio Cuenco, chairman of the House committee on foreign relations.

The bill seeks to draw up the archipelagic baselines of the Philippines that will include the disputed Spratly islands and Scarborough shoal as part of the national territory.Mr. Pimentel said the Senate will also tackle the following: 4. corruption and extra-judicial killings, 5. extension of the comprehensive agrarian reform program, 6. abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan, 7. Supreme Court ruling on the Neri case, 8. election in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, 9. Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement and 10, federalism proposal. # # #

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Last Updated on Sunday, 20 April 2008 22:26

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