Piñol and the merchants of greed

"The secretary calls for the early release of farmersí funds."



“The price of rice must have already stabilized since front-page news no longer calls for my resignation.”

These were Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol’s own words during an interview with Pinky Webb’s TV program The Source on ANC.

Appearing articulate and confident, Piñol fielded all the questions thrown his way. He said that the importation of the low-cost NFA rice from Vietnam and Thailand had depressed market prices. Piñol said he met with big-time importers and merchants and warned them against manipulating prices. Working with his Department of Agriculture team, Piñol did the arithmetic and found that importers and merchants were raising their profit level way too high.

Some of the merchants were exhibiting immoderate greed by mixing the NFA rice with the high-end commercial variety. This is defrauding the consumers who are already grappling with inflation and high prices of basic commodities. Piñol did not say it himself but the poor expressed anger and said they won’t mind if President Rodrigo Duterte dealt with the greedy rice merchants the same way he does with illegal drug traffickers.

Piñol called for the early release, without conditions, of the President’s calamity funds to help farmers affected by the series of typhoons that visited the country. Filipino farmers cannot wait even three to six months for funds to help them recover from millions of pesos lost from crops destroyed by a series of typhoons. With Typhoon “Rosita” expected to hit the country’s rice-producing northern provinces, Piñol pressed for the early release of farmers’ funds.

“The people must dismiss the presumption that this calamity fund will be subjected to corruption by government officials,” said Piñol in response to Ms. Webb’s apprehension the money will only go to the pockets of those who are in charge of it. If there is anomaly in the disbursement of funds for the farmers, they will be punished, said Piñol.

Piñol said he had known President Duterte for 20 years and knows the man who was a former prosecutor as someone who will not brook any form of corruption.

Senseless massacre

Nine people were killed in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was not an act of terrorism but a senseless, unprovoked action by a deeply tormented man. Most of the victims were Jewish senior citizens. There is so much hatred in this world and the mass shooter it seems is anti-Semitic.

Grief and sympathy for the victims poured in from all over the world. In Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, Tel Aviv and other cities, flags were flown at half mast.

We are not going to print the name of the perpetrator. Most often, this is what these crazed killers want—their names and dastardly deeds in headlines. Aside from the victims, those who also suffer are the wife, children and parents of the killer. Although they are unaware of the killer’s intent, they have to live and suffer the contempt of their neighbors and the relatives of the victims who were only in a place of worship practicing their faith.

Rico J. Puno, 65

Like hundreds of thousand of other fans, we mourn the passing of singer Rico J. Puno. He succumbed to cardiac arrest at the age of 65. He was rushed to the hospital but did not make it. Puno had had two heart surgeries before but still managed to perform in memory-lane concerts. This he did even as was still able to do his official duties as Makati City councilor.

Rico J. is best remembered for his Tagalog rendition of the iconic “The Way We Were.” Hearing him sing this iconic love song brought back memories to those who were young then and lived in the time of Rico Puno, a legend in the hall of Original Filipino Music

Rest in peace Rico J. and fill the heavens with your love songs.

Indonesian air crash

Another sad day this week with the crash of an Indonesian aircraft with 189 on board. The pilot of the Lion Air flight had radioed asking to return to Jakarta airport but lost contact with ground control only 13 minutes upon take off. The Boeing 737 plunged to the sea where body parts and debris were spotted floating at the wreckage site.

Lion Air flight JT 610 is a budget domestic airline from Jakarta bound for Pangkal Pinang. It is a brand-new plane and its two pilots had logged thousands of flying hours.

The possibility that there are survivors in this crash is remote. It is considered the second-worst air disaster in the history of world aviation.

Topics: Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol , Lion Air flight JT , Department of Agriculture , National Food Authority , Rico Puno

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