by Atty. Tony(APA) Acyatan (Atty. APA – chairman of Acyatan & Co., CPAs-DFK International is PICPA past national president and Accountancy Hall-of-Famer, and past chairman of ASEAN Federation of CPAs).
DISASTERS: The whole world is reeling from natural calamities – in Australia, North and South America, certain parts of Europe and even Russia. These are occurrences in both seasons – winter in the Western Hemisphere and summer in Australia. Environmental analysts blame it on the destruction of our ozone layer that distorts the differential seasons of hot and cold weather, affecting our ice glaciers.
The Philippines is also adversely affected – not directly by the ozone layer problem but by a more human cause of tragedy. The killing floods and disastrous landslides in the Cagayan Region, Bicol Region, Eastern and Western Visayas, North and Southern Mindanao are all traceable to the denudation of our forests. The trees that used to stock rainwater in their roots and provide safeguards for soil erosion are now gone. The illegal (or greedy legal) loggers have criminally abused our forest cover.
LOG BAN: President Aquino has seen the multitudes of Filipinos who are victims of the natural disasters. They lost their homes and means of livelihood – and even some family members. Government aids can be given – including new seeds and seedlings, but these are only temporary palliatives. The main cause of the natural debacles must be remedied. The most decisive of these is the strict implementation of a Total Log Ban – say for ten years, and covering all regions of our country.
The “log” ban should also include the cutting of young trees usually for firewood or for charcoal. If these small trees are eliminated by unscrupulous charcoal-makers, then we cannot expect new trees in our forests. Tree-planting of course, is the first step. But the project should not just be “ceremonial” and for purposes of “photo-ops” for politicians and NGOs. The program must require continuing attention and care for the trees that are planted – in the right areas.
SUFFICIENCY: Agriculture Secretary Prosy Alcala has boldly announced that the Philippines will be self-sufficient in rice (no more importations) by the end of 2013. They key is to make our rice-farms more productive per hectare. Expansion of the arable areas is no longer possible what with the urbanization of some erstwhile palaylands. To increase farm yields our farmers should be assisted in all aspects of farming: quality seeds, fertilizer and chemicals, and extension services.
The best encouragement is to give rice producers necessary price protection. The NFA must not be used to dampen market prices, to the detriment of the farm owners and workers. Filipinos will continue to consume rice if the staple is continually sold at “affordable” prices. This is the main reason why cheaper vegetables and local fruits are not preferred by our kababayans despite the bad effect on our health. Our cooking recipes must also be adjusted to remove rice dependency.
CHA-CHA: The debate for now is whether we should amend our constitution that was adopted in 1986 or 24 years ago – and if so, how must we do it! Majority of Filipinos believe that our organic law can stand some improvements, including land ownership by foreign investors. There are also major articles and sections that have become useless and inapplicable. Some say the revisions can be made now since the sitting president has no “extension agenda”.
Objections pertain to timing rather than the need for revisions. Many of our current eco-social problems which require immediate solutions are not rooted on constitutional provisions. Since the “Con-Ass” mode is not favored – then the recourse is Constitutional Convention. This will require national balloting that entails billions of expenses (if it comes to pass). The election of delegates may just be held in time for the 2013 elections (but this is objected to since the selection process might become political).
PROVERBS: Prudent men foresee difficulties and prepare; Simpletons go blindly, and suffer ruins.