Malacañang on Wednesday appealed for “an immediate end” to the Russia-Ukraine war, which has killed at least 136 civilians as of March 2 (PH time).

Acting Palace spokesman Karlo Nograles said the war has had economic, trade and human resource implications to the country and the Filipino people.

“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,” he said in a “Laging Handa” briefing.

During the briefing, Nograles said President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night convened his Cabinet members, along with top officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other high-ranking officials, to discuss possible scenarios should the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict continue and escalate.

“The AFP and the PNP gave assurances that our troops and our military and police assets stand ready, and that they have respective contingencies prepared for any developments,” Nograles said.

Duterte also approved the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) recommendation to boost local food production through the “Plant, Plant, Plant II” program that aims to increase the country’s rice buffer stock to not less than 30 days, provide financial assistance to rice farmers and address price hikes on fertilizers.

Duterte also approved the DA’s recommendation to distribute fuel discount vouchers to farmers and fisherfolks to help them mitigate the effects of increasing fuel prices in the country.

“Kung kinakailangan, nakahanda ang pamahalaan na isakatuparan ang implementasyon ng Price Control Law,” Nograles said.

On the supply of oil, Duterte approved the recommendations of the Department of Energy (DOE) to implement the P2.5-B “Pantawid Pasada” and P500-M fuel discount programs for farmers and fisherfolks.

“The DOE will continue to monitor the sufficiency in supply and quality and will make sure there will be no short selling,” Nograles said.

For the medium-term, Nograles said the Palace called on the 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.”

Duterte also the recommendations of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to accelerate renewable energy adoption, support investments in utility-scale battery storage to maximize utilization of renewable energy sources and support investments in modern storage facilities for oil and grains to increase within-the-border holding capacity and empower the private sector to help in strategic stockpiling.

“In conclusion, we appeal for an immediate end to the unnecessary loss of life, and call on the states involved to forge an accord that can help prevent a conflagration that could engulf a world still struggling to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic,” Nograles said.

“The course of history and the fate of our world will be shaped by the decisions that will be made by its leaders. We are one in prayer, together with all peace-loving citizens, that they be guided by wisdom and a genuine desire to save lives, establish harmony among neighboring nations, and forge a just and lasting peace for humanity,” he added. John Ezekiel J. Hirro