Ignoramus is no excuse | Inquirer Business

Ignoramus is no excuse

In the beginning, the Aquino (Part II) administration simply ignored the protests of thousands of drought-stricken farmers in Mindanao.

To think, the farmers already held two mass actions in 25 days, one in Kidapawan and another in Koronadal, suggesting that something must have been really wrong.


You would think that, upon learning of the bad news, a caring government would have at least tried to find out the real cause of the unrest.

Instead, our beloved Aquino (Part II) administration would shoot straight from the hips. OK—it could also shoot straight from sidearm holsters of the police!


Some ignoramuses in Malacañang as always had a ready excuse for the unrest among farmers in Mindanao. It was that the unrest was not real, that it was the handiwork of leftist groups—i.e. communists—to push for their radical ideology.

We thought nobody, not even this administration, could deny that the drought had already wrought havoc in our farmlands.

In fact, our leader Benigno Simeon, aka BS, talked proudly—and repeatedly—about the El Niño “mitigation plan” that his boys devised.

The bungling Department of Agriculture, or the DA, headed by Secretary Proceso “Rice Self-sufficiency” Alcala, boasted about its billion-peso spending for cloud seeding.

That was supposed to fight the drought, right? Meaning, the administration spent a fortune on hit-or-miss things like cloud seeding that did not solve the problem.

The administration, in fact, has also declared huge areas of Mindanao in a state of calamity, purportedly for the quick release of funds for food aid to farmers, for instance.

Lo and behold, when the farmers in Mindanao staged their protest, our favorite DA insisted that they had no reason to go hungry.


Mr. Self-sufficiency pointed out that we had all the rice in the world because the price of the commodity was stable.

In other words, there was rice for sale in the stores, and Alcala simply missed the fact that the farmers did not have the means to buy it.

Enter the DSWD, saying it had some systematic plan to distribute food aid to farmers, implying that those protesters—again—had no reason to go hungry.

And so, the DSWD model was used in the Kidapawan incident, in which the protesters must go home and just wait for the food aid from their barangay officials.

We all know that the DSWD model led to bloodshed.

Yet it was the same model that public officials, again, wanted to use in the Koronadal mass action.

Fortunately, somebody jumped into action and distributed 2,000 sacks of rice to the farmers that, after getting their share, all went home—without any incident.

Let me see—and that was how the supposedly leftist communist groups that the Malacañang ignoramuses used as excuse for the protest, would behave in a mass action—they just get the rice and forget everything, these radicals!

Let us even assume that leftist groups instigated the protest. The question was, well, what would the boys of our leader BS do about the problem?

It would be difficult to solve the problem just by giving us more excuses.

As the saying goes, he who excuses himself accuses himself.

* * *

FROM what I gathered, the UP Institute of Biology held a forum on the controversial issue on GM (genetically modified) crops.

The Supreme Court recently scrapped the 14-year old rules governing the importation of GM crops, thus imposing a ban.

The ruling also meant this administration would have to come up with new rules, with the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines, or the NCBP, holding public hearings.

From what I learned, the UP forum served as an eye-opener to the academe and the students.

The speakers included Anindya Bandyopadhyay, head of the C4 Rice Center of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI); Gabriel Romero, head of regulatory affairs unit in Monsanto Philippines, and lawyer James Kho, a member of the group drafting the new rules.

In the past 14 years or so, genetically modified organisms or GMOs became part of farming in the Philippines.

The government figured GMOs should be the better alternative to hazardous chemical pesticides that are proven to be harmful to humans and the environment.

Bandyopadhyay liked GMOs to vaccines and medicines used by humans: They could prevent diseases in plants.

Romero of Monsanto, showed the benefits of GMO to the local corn and livestock industries with higher yields and incomes, which benefited consumers in the form of steady prices.

Kho, as the lawyer in the group, noted that the Supreme Court decision leaned more toward the “safety” issues over GM crops.

In effect, Supreme Court justices did not consider the “science” behind the GMO issue, which lawyers of pro-GMO groups had presented. It scrapped the GMO importation rules, and we would be back to square one, because the lawyers did not touch on the health risks from GM crops.

In effect, the new rules would have to deal with the issue on “safety” of GM crops for the consuming public.

Wait a minute, when we talk of public safety, as the main concern now, should we also talk about scientific studies that would verify, or even disprove, the volumes of various whacky claims on the “possible” hazards of GMOs?

In the end, how do we separate the legal issues from the scientific studies, since we are talking here of some scientific advancement? Beats me, too!

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TAGS: Business, Drought, economy, farmers, Mindanao, News, protests
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