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FIRING LINE: Another fertilizer scam?

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

It looks like the Department of Agriculture (DA) is back at it again with its questionable memos, this time drawing suspicions to its push to purchase and distribute biofertilizers to rice farmers. Memorandum Order (MO) No. 32, issued by Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, aims to promote the use of biofertilizers as a cost-effective alternative to urea fertilizer.

But is the DA really looking out for the welfare of farmers, or is something more devious going on here?

Rosendo So, who heads the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), is skeptical about the memo’s timing as the fertilizers’ prices are going down by half. In fact, he suggests that the biofertilizer being pushed by the DA is overpriced at P2,000 per bag compared with the one offered by the University of Philippines Los Baños at only P500.

 Despite SINAG’s argument that urea — the most concentrated solid nitrogen fertilizer preferred by many farmers — is still cheaper than biofertilizer, the DA insists that biofertilizer can save money. But why push for biofertilizers when urea prices have already decreased by half? And why not give farmers a choice between urea and biofertilizer by handing out vouchers instead of distributing fertilizer bags? 

These same questions have Sen. Risa Hontiveros stumped, so she has filed for an inquiry. Hopefully, So and Sebastian can face off at the Senate to unravel the truth and avoid another big-time fertilizer scam as we saw 20 years ago.

With the many boo-boos happening in this particular department of government, perhaps, one day, the President, who insists on leading the DA, should own up to the blame and shoot himself in the foot.

5 buoys that make a difference

Amid the constant encroachment of China on our sovereign territory in the West Philippine Sea, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has taken a bold and patriotic step to mark what’s truly ours. The recent installation of navigational buoys in critical areas of the WPS, adorned with the Philippine flag, signifies the country’s unwavering resolve to protect our maritime borders and resources and contribute to the safety of maritime trade.

While some argue that installing these buoys may not deter China’s aggressive actions, it’s a step towards asserting our sovereignty and protecting our national interest, especially in our exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Moreover, it’s a reminder that we will not back down and will continue to stand our ground against any threat to our territorial integrity.

It’s also heartening to hear that the PCG is monitoring the alleged Chinese militia vessels anchored in Philippine-claimed maritime areas and conducting their law enforcement functions in a non-provocative manner. This shows we can defend our sovereignty while still upholding the diplomatic approach.

We may be a small nation, but we are strong and resilient. That’s the message we are now sending out to the world.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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