Russia-Ukraine crisis

Duterte approves PH food security, oil supply measures amid Russia-Ukraine crisis

Sofia Tomacruz
Duterte approves PH food security, oil supply measures amid Russia-Ukraine crisis

COMMAND CONFERENCE. President Rodrigo Duterte meets with Cabinet members and top officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police on March 1, 2022.

RTVM Screenshot

Malacañang says the command conference also tackled security plans and contingency programs to cushion the impact of a prolonged Russia-Ukraine crisis

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the measures recommended by his economic team to cushion the country from the impact of the ongoing crisis between Ukraine and Russia.

Malacañang said on Wednesday, March 2, that the measures were presented to the President during a command conference on the Russia-Ukraine crisis on Tuesday night, March 1.

Footage of the meeting showed top officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police in attendance, along with Cabinet members including Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. 

Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles said discussions included the Philippines’ security and defense plans and the effects of ongoing fighting on trade and labor. Contingency plans and programs to cushion the impact of a prolonged Russia-Ukraine crisis were also addressed. 

“The President has approved the recommendations of his economic team to strengthen our domestic economy, stabilize food prices, provide social protection, and explore diplomatic channels to help resolve the conflict,” Nograles added.

Specific recommendations made by Cabinet members and approved by Duterte included increasing the country’s rice buffer stock to no less than 30 days, providing fertilizer subsidies and logistical support, and ensuring fuel discount vouchers for fisherfolk and farmers.

On oil supply, Duterte likewise gave the go-ahead for the Department of Energy to implement the P2.5-billion Pantawid Pasada or fuel subsidy, and P500-million fuel discount program for farmers and fisherfolk.

Aside from this, the Palace called on Congress to review the oil deregulation law, “particularly provisions on unbundling the price, and the inclusion of the minimum inventory requirements in the law, as well as giving the government intervention powers/authority to intervene when there is a spike and/or prolonged increase of prices of oil products.”

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Duterte convened the special meeting as fighting across Ukraine enters its sixth day. Russian forces had invaded its neighboring country after President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine. Russia recognized these regions as independent last February 21 – a move that accelerated a crisis the West feared could unleash a major war. 

Over half a million refugees have been forced to flee Ukraine for neighboring countries, according to the Untied Nations refugee agency. Several explosions have hit major Ukranian cities, in some instances causing damage to civilian infrastructure 

The Philippines has denounced what it considered as the “invasion of Ukraine,” recently voting to support a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution that condemned Russia’s actions against its neighboring country. 

The Philippines likewise continued to call on parties to show its commitment to the Manila Declaration on the peaceful settlement of international disputes, which was adopted by the assembly in November 1982. The document is considered one of the most important achievements of the Special Committee of the Charter of the United Nations and Strengthening the Role of the Organization.

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Duterte had earlier echoed the Philippines’ vote before the UNGA as he called for “restraint” and “deescalation of violence” in the crisis.

“The Palace joins the country and the entire world in praying for an early and peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine. We reiterate the position of the Philippines that war benefits no one, and that it exacts a tragic, bloody toll on the lives of innocent men, women, and children in the areas of conflict,” Nograles said. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.