With the price of a kilo of onions still extremely high, the price of eggs per kilo is now about 60 percent higher.
This is demonstrating the total inability of the DA to anticipate this problems or do something about them.
With all these problems, how can PBBM fully convince prospective investors the country is the next best thing when it comes to investment opportunities when we are currently gripped with an apparent unsolvable onion problem?
Those responsible for this mess, whether they are smugglers or corrupt government officials, are running circles around the DA.
Now, we can add another dubious distinction to the many we already have of having the most expensive onion in the world.
If this were Japan, those DA officials responsible for all these problems should have resigned or have committed seppuku or hara-kiri.
For all intents and purposes, the DA has completely lost its credibility with the public. After onions and eggs, what is next?
Salt apparently is the next commodity that will increase in price if the government fails to do something about the current state of the salt industry.
Salt production in the country has gone down tremendously because of high production costs.
From about 240,000 tons of salt in the 1970s, this is now down to about 25,000 tons a year.
The reason being given is RA 8172 or the iodized salt law of 1995.
This law mandates all salts produced in the country must be iodized as a measure to solve the prevalence of goiter among Filipinos.
In effect, RA 8172 was passed as a health measure.
The problem, however, is it increased the production cost of salt making.
There is now an effort in Congress to amend this law to spur salt production in the country and bring it back to where it was before the passage of RA 8172 in order that the importation of salt will stop.
The inability of the DA to do anything to stop the smuggling of onions and other agricultural products flooding the country is only showing how difficult it is to market the country as an investment hub.
If we cannot solve this onion problem which is not even our staple food, how can we be expected to solve more complex problems?
Would the DA even know how many metric tons of onions are being produced in the whole country and which provinces are producing them?
Perhaps it’s time DA did what the PNP had done: ask for the courtesy resignation of senior DA officials.
After all, if this cleansing solution can be done to the PNP, it can also be done to the DA.
Smuggling of agricultural products is a curse in the DA.
Every administration has tried solving the smuggling of rice, sugar and other agricultural products.
Perhaps when there is big money to be made, it is not really that hard to recruit willing participants.
As I have written in a previous article, this problem has become more of an intelligence and a law enforcement problem because it involves the identification and arrest of smugglers, unscrupulous middlemen, price manipulators and corrupt government officials in cahoots with them.
Most important of all is the political will to do it.
One example–although not involving the DA – is the aborted transport of nickel ore mined from Zambales.
The report mentioned millions exchanging hands between a Chinese company and certain government officials for clearance to transport about 240,000 tons of nickel ore. Even without deeper investigations, it is apparent this could not have been done without the involvement of people from several government agencies.
Good thing everything was not ironed out and someone made a report that eventually stopped the departure of the ship containing the ore.
And this is just one illegal operation that was stopped.
Were there previous shipments allowed?
How many more such operations go on every day without the public knowing about them?
At least one outcome of this sordid episode resulted is the reported resignation of the DENR Region 3 Director and is now public knowledge.
This should be investigated thoroughly to unravel and identify those involved. I suspect that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Sometimes, it is shocking to know there are people willing to inflict irreparable damage on the country’s environment for 30 pieces of silver.
There are reports that some mountains in Zambales have already been so degraded because of mining.
This only goes to show there are problems that need PBMM’s full attention.
With due respect to him, he should consider appointing a permanent DA Secretary at the soonest possible time.
It will undoubtedly make his job of marketing the country in the international community easier if all the shenanigans in the government bureaucracy are eliminated first or reduced tremendously.