Official: Philippines not comparable with Haiti in food crisis 2008-04-13 19:08:44   Print

    MANILA, April 13 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government Sunday said the food situation in the country is totally different from Haiti where the prime minister has been ousted from power due to a food crisis.

    An official of the Malacanang presidential palace expressed confidence that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will not suffer the same fate as Haiti Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis, who was ousted from office for his failure to boost farming production and ask for the early departure of U.N. peacekeepers.

    "Haiti is not trying to solve the problem, while we are doing something to address the issue. We don't have a food shortage. So, no comparison, that will not happen to us because our government officials from the President down to the Cabinet are working hard to find a solution," Chief presidential legal counsel Sergio Antonio Apostol said.

    The government has also rejected a call by some opposition politicians for declaring a state of emergency over food price, saying the government is still controlling the situation.

    Apostol said the government has been adopting measures to boost food supply, particularly rice, and ensure that the government-subsidized grain remains affordable and is directly delivered to the poor.

    Haitian senators have voted to end Alexis' two-year-old term as anger is mounting over his failure to boost farming production after riots over soaring food price has led to several deaths.

    Over looming social unrest over high food price, the Philippine government has deployed troops to guard government-subsidized food distribution centers in Metro Manila, where long queues of people are seen waiting for hours under hot sunshine to buy cheaper rice.

    The influential Roman Catholic Church has also been tapped by the government to help distribute cheap food to the poorest through its parish system around the country.

    The Filipino militant peasant organization, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Sunday warned an alleged plan by Arroyo to increase the price of government-subsidized rice could lead to social unrest.

    The food crisis, marked by soaring rice price, is also affecting international food relief operation in the Philippines, specifically the United Nation's World Food Program (WFP) which benefits more than 1.2 million people, including 180,000 school children, in conflict-ridden areas in Mindanao, southern Philippines.

    Local television network ABS-CBN News said WFP officials fear they might cut down on operations to stay afloat amid the rice shortage.

    WFP's 500 million U.S. dollar budget deficit for its global operation has also been aggravated by the soaring price of rice in the international market.

Editor: Song Shutao
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