WASHINGTON, DC (Via PLDT) — The Philippines and the
United States forged on Tuesday an estimated $ 216.5-million
food security agreement aimed at minimizing the effects of
soaring world prices of consumer goods.
President Arroyo witnessed the signing of the cooperation
pact on agriculture and related fields between the Philippine
Department of Agriculture (DA) and the US Department of Agriculture
on the second day of her visit to the US capital.
The signing of the agreement came a few hours after US President
George W. Bush offered further rice sales and other food
assistance to the Philippines in a meeting with President
Arroyo at the White House.
The food security pact was signed by Agriculture Secretary
Arthur Yap and USDA Secretary Ed Schafer at the Willard Intercontinental
The RP-US accord includes sanitary and phytosanitary measures
that will allow the sale of fresh fruits from the Philippines
to the US in the near future.
Other areas of cooperation include biotechnology, especially
in the development of disease-resistant rice varieties through
a $ 1.5-million grant. Another $ 25 million was set aside
for an accelerated dairy development program which plans
to deploy 10,000 dairy animals in the next five years.
Also in the cooperation agreement are increased rice supply
purchase agreements through Public Law 480 of at least $
20 million and General Services Manager 102 Program of at
least $ 70 million, a proposed surplus equipment program
of $ 50 million, an extension service capacity- building
program of $ 25 million, and an accelerated livestock genetic
resource improvement program of $ 25 million.
"All these cooperation areas are in support of Philippine
food security program,"€ the DA said.
In her remarks before two American business groups last
Tuesday night, the President said she asked the United States
to help ensure ample food supply in the Philippines during
her meetings with Bush and Schafer.
"During our meetings with President Bush and Agriculture
Secretary Schaefer, we called on the US, as the breadbasket
of the world, to help ensure supply, invest in research,
and continue to provide vital humanitarian supplies to the
truly needy in our nation and others affected by this global
phenomenon," she said.
Bush told President Arroyo that the Philippines can count
on the United States for food assistance.
"I assured the President we’ll continue to help.
We helped with rice in the past. And, you know, I’m
proud of my country. We give a lot of food aid, and this
is a time where America needs to step up, and we will, Madam
President," the US leader said.
Mrs. Arroyo acknowledged there is a need for a "strong
global leadership and coordination" to avert the high
oil and food prices from becoming a perpetual problem.
She said the Philippine government has been working to address
the challenges arising from the slowdown in the global economy
combined with the rising cost of food and oil.
Also last Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), the Chief Executive
pushed for the passage of a bill raising benefits for Filipino
World War II veterans during her meeting with Bush.
The President she made a "strong case" for the
veterans’ equity bill pending in the House of Representatives
on concerns about the source of the funds.
The US Senate passed the Veterans’ Benefits Enhancement
Bill with an overwhelming 96-1 vote last April. It provides
$ 250-$ 300 million over 10 years for the Filipino WW II
"I made a strong case for why the Philippine veterans
of World War II deserve equity and I’ve asked for the
understanding and support of the leaders of America," she
"This is consistent with one major aim of this trip — to
help fight for passage of the Filipino Veterans’ Equity
Bill that’s part of a larger bill pending in the US
Congress," she added.
"So I’ve spoken with (US House) Speaker Nancy
Pelosi, with Senate Majority Leader (Harry) Reid, and President
Bush on the issue, not to mention, of course, the authors
and sponsors to thank them for what they did," the President