SONA 2011

Aquino’s first year speech: Dubious claim on improved rice security

Aquino’s first year speech was not only very thin in substance but also claimed dubious achievements such as rice security (Photo by Raffy Lerma)

As usual, President Benigno S. Aquino III spent a big portion of his speech during his administration’s first anniversary rites yesterday blaming Mrs. Gloria Arroyo for the numerous problems facing the country. To be sure, the despised Arroyo administration has a lot to account for. But the people have long been waiting for actual charges to be filed against Gloria Arroyo for her corruption and human rights abuses. Sadly, after a year in office, all Aquino has done is whine while using Arroyo’s misdeeds to justify his own shortcomings. (Read the full text of his speech here)

The President, of course, also enumerated some accomplishments that his administration has supposedly achieved in the past year. One of the purported achievements Aquino highlighted is the improvement in the country’s rice security, to wit:

“Noon pong isang taon, barko-barkong toneladang bigas ang inaangkat, at katakut-takot din ang gastusin sa mga bodegang pinagtatambakan nito. 1.3 million metric tons lang po ang kailangan natin pampuno sa kakulangan ng ating ani, pero umangkat sila ng dalawang milyong metriko tonelada. Ngayon po, halos kalahati na lang ang inaangkat nating anim na raan at animnapung libong metriko tonelada.”

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has set a target of just 860,000 metric tons (MT) of rice imports this year from a record 2.45 million MT in 2010. According to the President, government is on track to meet its target based on first half figures. How did government achieve this? Again, quoting Aquino’s speech:

“Hindi po tayo nag-magic para dumami ang bigas na inaani natin dito: itinutok lang po natin ang pondo ng irigasyon sa kung saan ito pinakamura at mabisa; pinalawak ang paggamit ng maiging klase ng binhi; at pinalawig din ang upland rice farming. Lahat po ito, nagdulot ng dagdag na labinlimang porsyento sa ating inani noong huling taon, at ng pinakamataas na ani sa kasaysayan ng dry season cropping.”

Aquino credited his agriculture program promoting the more efficient use of irrigation, use of better rice varieties, and expanded upland farming for the improvement in rice yield by 15% and a record harvest for the dry cropping season.

But the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) has a different explanation behind the increased yield. Here’s a portion of their latest report Rice and Corn Situation Outlook, Vol. 25 No. 2, April 2011:

“The January-June 2011 palay production may reach 7.61 million MT, 14.9% higher than last year’s level of 6.62 million MT.  This could be attributed to the expansion in harvest area and improvement in yield compared to last year’s conditions when palay production was adversely affected by the El Niño phenomenon.  Area harvested may increase by 10.2% from last year’s record of 1.82 million hectares.  Yield per hectare may improve from 3.64 MT in 2010 to 3.80 MT this year.”  (Emphasis added)

(You may download BAS’s full report here)

Based on BAS’s report, the 15%-improvement in rice yield, which Aquino cited in his speech, can be attributed mainly to improved weather conditions. Palay production last year fell by more than 7% because of the drought. Thus, the supposed increase in yield is not really an expansion but merely a recovery from the 2009-2010-decline, pushed chiefly by favorable weather and not by any meaningful agricultural program. Yield per hectare, meanwhile, practically remained at its level before the 2010 El Niño, showing that productivity, which is a more reliable indicator of whether higher production is due to government intervention, did not really move. (See Table, lifted from the BAS report)

Moreover, the growth figures on rice production mentioned in Aquino’s speech – including the supposed all-time high harvest for the dry cropping season – are just based on projections and not on actual records.  In his most recent statement to the media (July 27), Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that, “Palay production in the first half of this year may reach 7.6 million metric tons” and that “this estimated output will put the government about halfway toward achieving its full-year target palay production of 17.46 million tons.” Alcala was quoting the BAS estimates cited in the April 2011 edition of the Rice and Corn Outlook.

Alcala’s confidence is hinged on the strong performance of rice production in the first quarter of the year when it reached 4.04 million MT or almost 16% higher than during the same period last year. For full-year 2011, the DA expects total production to reach 17.46 million MT, “barring any major weather disturbance.”

Lastly, the favorable rice supply in the first half of the year benefited as well from the over-importation of rice by the Arroyo administration in 2010. An audit team formed by the National Food Authority (NFA) disclosed that last year, there was an over-quantity of about 0.82 million MT in rice imports. This boosted the buffer supply of the NFA reducing the need for more importation.

Aquino’s first year speech was already very thin in substance particularly in terms of accomplishments. Worse, even the few achievements specified by the President like the rice supply situation seem highly dubious. (End)


16 thoughts on “Aquino’s first year speech: Dubious claim on improved rice security

  1. michael says:

    you’re reading headline news and not seeing the small changes that will affect how the country will be run. not to mention, youre impatient and seem to not understand that business investments take time. bidding takes time. construction takes time. planning takes time.

    if you want to be a better researcher, start going to each of the departments’ websites and see what projects they are working on or what progress they’re making. you’re quick to judge, resulting in idiotic opinions and misguided articles.

    here are some accomplishments:
    – Foreign Investments amounting to $ 2.4 billion dollars is expected to come in which will directly generate 43,600 jobs for the Filipinos.
    – Jumpstarted Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) which is expected to generate more jobs once bidding for the projects is done.
    – Strengthened implementation of conditional cash transfers, benificiaries for next year increased to 2.3 million from 1 million families this year.
    – Budget for education for 2011 is up from 175 billion pesos to 207.3 billion pesos to spend for the construction of 13,147 classrooms and hiring of 10,000 teachers.
    – Budget for health for 2011 is up from 29.3 billion pesos to 33.3 billion pesos for the implementation of a National Health Program.
    – DOH held the PhilHealth National Registration Day which targeted 4.7 million indigent families.
    – $ 59 million grant from World bank was granted to continue the KALAHI-CIDSS program which aims to help poor communities develop the necessary skills and provides them with resources to select, implement, and sustain small-scale community infrastructure projects and social services
    – $430 million grant from Millennium Challenge Corporation was approved which will be used to finance poverty alleviation, road construction and tax administration improvement projects.
    – Gross International Reserves is now at an all-time high – 52.3 billion dollars.
    – Philippine Stock Exchange Index reached its all-time high at 4,196.73 which led to recognizing PSE as one of the best-performing stock market in Asia.

    I’d say those are pretty BIG accomplishments. you’re out of your mind or simply do not understand economical growth very well if you think he hasn’t accomplished much. and the rich security actually is a big deal as we will be self sufficient within a couple years resulting a millions saved. start reading more man, you’re articles are completely out of sync and misguided. you must read the progress that is being made with the local government units as well as the posted projects that these departments have on their site. you’re covering a lot of bullshit topics and not analyzing the right changes

  2. michael says:

    “There is no success in projects taking off but I think we have laid the groundwork, and proved that the country is open for business. International agencies are giving us very high ratings never attained before. With the level of investments, I think we’re primed for growth, but we need to be patient because these changes may take some more time.”

  3. arnold padilla says:

    big accomplishments, really? let’s see. $2.4 B in foreign investments, these are just commitments – some of them first made to gma – spread until aquino is no longer president. ppp and job generation, where? education and health budget hikes? more than half of actual public expenditures went to debt servicing. $430-m mcc grant and $59-m wb grant, these were old commitments to the ph before noynoy became president.all-time high gir, that’s because the bsp revised its computing method. record pse index? that’s speculative. it can be pushed up or down by factors like the greek debt crisis, us recession, bomb scare in metro manila, etc.

  4. michael says:

    those are big changes, atleast for the first year. his most important however was cleaning the government of corrupt officials and looking after the BIR palusot in paying taxes. decades of institutionalized corruption will not be changed overnight or in one year. sorry to break it to you buddy. like the quote i posted above said, they are laying down the groundwork first. which is what companies like mine have been paying attention to. their is still some reforms needed which is why our confidence is a little slow, but nonethless, we’re exploring the many options. hence why these “commitments” aren’t underway just yet. foreign investments mostly from gma? please. the few that actually are still on the table are because she is a corrupt loser and surrounded herself with idiots. nothing but shady deals from her. not to mention she over-spent on every project she accomplished during her time. then again, what do you know about real growth and intrinsic value. and who has to fix this mess? do you not understand how difficult it is to actually close out an existing deal with a foreign firm? the repercussions are drastic. the person who has to do damage control is no other than… p-noy. but for people like you, it’s all his fault right? fall back man. as for the ppp, its easy to criticize the progress when you’re an “analyst”. the govt is spending slowly but saving a ton. this is called smart spending little guy. which is extremely needed after gma’s run. for once, the govt is actually doing what is right and maximizing the country’s funds

    companies like the ones i own invest solely internationally. business process outsourcing, infrastructure, and energy are our niches, our specialty. your specialty is writing blogs and using wordpress. you create posts. we create jobs. when it comes to business, we take our time. as should the govt. especially in a damaged and barely secondary emerging market like the philippines. the credit ratings were big for us foreign investors though, but what does the govt’s strict austerity measures mean to you, right? fiscal consolidation adds nothing to the life of a researcher like yourself

    record pse index is speculative? doris dumlao would say otherwise. good friend of mine. she writes all the business news for the inquirer. you want to become a a real analyst? follow in her footsteps and partake in better due diligence. she’s listed as the 12th most influential pinay in the country. only non-showbiz women on there i believe (displays country’s ignorance really). of course to you though, the record pse index was mainly because of our recession or the debt crisis. or so you say. right…

    you guys are clueless because you guys don’t understand the risk or the process of running companies. i don’t care where you graduated from, they didn’t teach you real business knowledge, real applicable information pertaining to international investments. diosdad banatao is my uncle. well-known entrepreneur here in the states. we are currently working with the deped over in the philippines in order to reduce poverty and improve human development by giving laptops and tablets to schools all over the country. manufactured by filipinos for filipinos. this is an extremely progressive and delicate business undertaking which will ultimately alter lives. not to mention the fact that we will be doing it on a large scale, and providing jobs in the process. we’re doing this because we believe in the administration and the steps he’s taken thus far. considered meaningless small steps to guys like you, but big steps to people like us. this is why we take action and change the world while you sit on your laptop and complain about having to wait til the 6 years are up. that’s the difference between you and me, my friend. i have hope in our country and our people, and am doing something about it. in fact, my whole family is. here in the states and back there.

    instead of complaining, why don’t you figure out how you can help speed up the country’s development. there are multiple ways. much more advantageous than writing non-sense on a little blog (not all of it, you have some good posts)
    now you may be writing this as a hobby, but i sure hope you’re also contributing in more measurable ways

    CNBC, WSJ, and Bloomberg have all sited the philippines, along with indonesia, as a top country with attractive possibilities for the first time in decades. have you even researched those!? they’re pretty credible sources if you don’t know. this investment attractiveness can all be tied and thanked to the new administration. if you want to complain and write about negative stories, why don’t you talk about the lack of work Lim has done for tourism, and the administration in general? he’s failing filipinos miserably

  5. michael says:

    “In a separate interview, BOI Executive Director Lucita P. Reyes said that investments from January to June this year was at P204.175 billion or 20.27 percent better than the P169.757 billion registered during the same period of 2010.

    Employment generated for the first six months of the year grew by 128 percent to 31,899 from the 14,021 jobs a year ago. The number of projects likewise ballooned to 148 projects from the 90 recorded January to June 2010.

    However, there was a decline in the number of investment approvals if June 2011 and June 2010 are compared. June 2011 is only one tenth of the June 2010 approvals or from P126.144 billion to only P12.991 billion.

    Reyes explained that this is because the bulk of the June 2010 investments are for the independent power producers which were already delisted by the BOI in the Investment Priorities Plan (IPP). This means that IPPA projects will no longer enjoy incentives from the BOI.”

  6. dexter ledesma says:

    more great posts! too bad, arnold, that you “simply do not understand economical growth” — oh, growth that’s matipid? oh man, my friend, little guy, buddy… “you need reform before people like me and my team invest our money and take the risk… myself and my partners… we take action and change the world” — really great stuff!

    I’ll do some research of my own — you know, my friend, the “due diligence” — and hope it’s “fine”:

    BSP says foreign direct investments down 15.1% in Jan-April 2011 to US$552 million from US$650 million in the same period in Arroyo-era 2010 (and US$872 million in 2009)? What a big change… downward!

    Jump-started PPPs — er, jumped up and down in place? LAst I heard, as of yesterday according to the government’s PPP center website, not one of the 10 (or 12) priority PPPs have yet been bid out and much less started. The closest was the MRT deal but new DOTC secretary Roxas stooped the bidding so that he could rig it first, er, review it first.

    2.3 million beneficiaries of CCTs — so the government claims! Aquino said he witnessed the signing of the oath of commitment of the program’s two millionth beneficiary in early July — but, wait, the official DSWD report said that there were already 2.1 million beneficiaries as of May? Oh well, sayang nga naman ang nice round number of “two million” and what’s a hundred thousand her or there (rounded off). But even if we grant that all the supposed the recipients of the grants get these… wait, will they finally have jobs and decent incomes after they reach the maximum 5 years? Give relief, certainly, but if you’re not creating jobs over the long-term then you’re fooling them and the public.

    Education budget increase? Hey, thanks… I’m sure that’s going to go far in addressing the shortage of 100,000 classrooms nationwide (which the DepEd itself estimates)! Health budget increased? Oh, you mean the budget of the health department which increased from P29.3 billion to P33.3 billion. Right, Aquino increased the budget especially for PhilHealth which eventually means more money going to investors in private hospitals. But wait… the budget for state universities and colleges was cut by PhP364 million, for 67 public hospitals nationwide used mainly by the poor by PhP368 million, and for five specialty hospitals by PhP971 million, and for subsidies to indigent patients by PhP20 million. But, of course, the government has to scrimp somewhere to raise P357 billion for debt service… and actually P823 billion if we also count principal payments. And what’s good governance without pork barrel? Aquino also increased the pork barrel by P14 billion to P25 billion.

    Wow, all-time PSE index high! The US$2 billion in inflows in January-May 2011 (more than the US$772 million in the first 5 months of last year) must have had something to do with that. Think of all the jobs this created! Maybe 2 or 3 new stockbrokers were hired?! WB and MCC — yes, the WB and the US govt have really shown they’re deep love for the Filipino people through all the years… GIR? US$52.3 billion — so many foreigners (and perhaps even a few Filipinos abroad) will be happy to hear that there’s enough forex for their foreign debt to be repaid, for peso profits to be converted to dollars and sent to the US, to pay for brand new (or used) white Porsches…

    What would be something is if Pres. Aquino said as his accomplishments in his first year: i have given a P125 across the board wage hike, i have convinced my family to give Hacienda Luisita to the farmworkers we’ve underpaid for decades, there is no more classroom backlog, public hospitals are there for every Filipino in need to go to and be cared for, and there will be jobs for every Filipino because we have started building Filipino industries owned by and manufacturing for Filipinos…

  7. dexter ledesma says:

    Oops, so many typos — Sec Roxas stoops but meant to say “stopped”, “they’re deep love” is really all theirs for themselves etc etc.

    But, more importantly, forgot to mention that Aquino actually cut the health sector budget from P40.0 billion in 2010 to P38.6 billion in 2011 — it turns out that the health department budget, which rose a little bit, isn’t the whole of health sector spending. Good thing I took Michael’s advice to do a bit of research instead of cutting-and-pasting from Malacanang press releases…

  8. michael says:

    i call you little guy because i can. you are small time compared to me and my family. feel free to prove me otherwise. everything you just cried about will come. it’s just a matter of time. the philippine system is slow, inefficient, and run by corrupt or just retarded people who can barely speak english. i’m not saying p-noy is amazing as he has his faults, but for his first year he laid down the groundwork for foreign investors. you may not appreciate this, but we do. especially since we can only own 40% of a corporation. creating jobs over the long-term will occur if there is improved tax collection, and less corruption enabling more companies like mine to start investing there. the tangible and government reforms in the past year has given us more confidence. but then theirs dumbasses like you who pretty much complain and scare off investors from taking a chance on your people

    “WB and MCC — yes, the WB and the US govt have really shown they’re deep love for the Filipino people through all the years”

    you’re acting like its our responsibility to love and help a weak country like the philippines. why would we give our money to leaders like arroyo? stupid

    and why are you going to BSP numbers? check your statistics again dipshit. Philippine economic zone authority show investments rose to an almost P300 billion during the first five months of this year, up 189% from last year. investment pledges at the BoI hit P191 billion in the first five months this year, a 338% surge from the previous year’s P43 billion

    my company along with our partners at quantum international will be in the philippines in a couple weeks. dexter ledesma or arnold padilla, whoever you are… since you claim to know so much about business and foreign investments, give me your real name and the company that you work for. we’d like to pay you a visit

  9. dipshit says:

    Nope, it’s just me again! I can barely speak English so had to Google this: “dipshit — 1. A despised person; a moron; an ineffectual person; one with a habit of being wrong, loudly and often.” Also Googled “BSP numbers dipshit” and found out that BSP figures refer to actual (as in real, concrete) investments that came in as opposed to BOI/PEZA/SBMA/CDC figures which are just approved/pledged (as in promised and intended, as in “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”…).

    Dexter Ledesma & Arnold Padilla — real names, real people! Didn’t catch your last name though… I don’t know about Arnold but, sorry, I’m so busy that I unfortunately won’t be able to entertain you. If you give your cellphone number maybe I can call you next time I’m in Makati and squeeze you in for about 45 seconds while entering the lobby of some really expensive hotel to talk to some really important bankers, investors, high-level politicians, big-time families and other, you know, big important high-level folks. Or maybe my people can talk to your people and set something up?

    I don’t doubt that the country is going to become the extraordinary nation that Filipinos can have and truly deserve. And I’m also sure that this isn’t going to be from the efforts of self-serving profit-seeking foreign investors or foreign govt’s looking out for their geopolitical interests. My faith, and of many others, is rather in the resolute and inspiring struggles of Filipinos seizing control of their lives.

  10. michael says:

    “Arnold Padilla – Far Eastern University. Originally from Olongapo City. Jay Padilla. Rhea Padilla. Gurley Padilla. Violy Cero.”

    the beautiful thing about being a capitalist is that in countries like the philippines, money talks. see you soon.

  11. bernie.pisay says:

    mr michael, may i ask – is this an official position of ‘quantum international’ – “the philippine system is slow, inefficient, and run by corrupt or just retarded people who can barely speak english?..” because if it is, i doubt if you can even step on the phils without getting hurt. or are you really in the US? your url shows otherwise.
    oh, wait a minute. this quantum int’l has a website.. i may just as well show them this link with your very low comments. im sure any company in its right mind wont tolerate such misrepresentation..

  12. michael says:

    check again buddy. of course they have a website, what company doesn’t? and i’m pretty sure any board of directors anywhere would agree that the philippine system is in fact slow, inefficient, and corrupt as it has proven to be in the past decades. very little progress

    to be the bigger man and to reach an end, i will leave the site after this last post and carry on. we will continue to invest in the philippines regardless of some little blog feud. as for the few noynoy topics discussed, i’ll agree to disagree

    god bless our people and nation

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