Bernadette E. Tamayo
February 27, 2011
SENATOR Francis Pangilinan will not oppose moves to grant President Benigno Aquino III emergency powers to address oil price hikes and the subsequent increases in the prices of food and basic commodities as a result of political upheaval in the Middle East.
“If the situation warrants it we will support such powers. No one anticipated the turn of events in the Middle East, and considering that some one million of our countrymen are based there,” he said.
“We need to have a President empowered to protect our interest in times of international crisis. We also trust that President Aquino will not allow for such emergency powers to be abused,” Pangilinan said.
He also sought an inquiry into the apparent “sudden” increase in food prices and other agricultural products. He filed Senate Resolution No. 394 to allow the government to know “exactly what we are dealing with and from there be able to craft policies and legislate accordingly.”
“Food security is a matter of national security. It is a matter of paramount national interest. Only the combined efforts of both government and the citizenry will ensure that we will overcome these challenges,” said Pangilinan, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.
He expressed concern over the volatile situation in the Middle East and its possible effect on food prices in the country.
“We call on the Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Finance to address worse case scenarios should oil prices and prices of other basic commodities rise due to the ongoing political turmoil in the Middle East,” Pangilinan said.
“The DA should monitor the availability of food supply. The NFA must ensure rice stock remains available. The DTI should ensure strict monitoring of prices of basic commodities and protect consumers from profiteering,” he said.
He stressed the need for careful planning and urged the government to lead the private sector in coming up with stronger measures to mitigate rising food prices.
“Some Asian governments have already started to come up with measures to mitigate rising prices. Erratic weather patterns have started wreaking havoc on our agricultural lands.
“China and India are stockpiling on grains, which means we need to rely less on importation to secure our buffer. The price of oil continues to soar. It is a matter that requires our serious attention,” he said.
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