Solon urges modernization of local rice production
Modernizing local rice production, not unbridled importation of the staple, will solve the country’s intermittent rice shortage, a peasant leader-turned-lawmaker said on Monday.
Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao reiterated that the rice tariffication law would make the Philippines more dependent on imported rice.
The law, which President Rodrigo Duterte signed last week, lifted the quantitative restrictions on rice importation and imposed instead a 35-percent tariff on imported rice from member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and 50 percent on imports from other countries.
“When the time comes … [the Filipinos] will just be an addition to the world population who beg for food, whose food security is a sham and [whose] right to food [is] totally inexistent,” Casilao said in a statement.
He said he would file a bill in the House of Representatives that would repeal the rice tariffication law, which administration lawmakers claimed would improve the competitiveness of local rice farmers.
As an alternative, the party-list legislator pushed for the passage of House Bill No. 8512, or the proposed Rice Industry Development Act, which would earmark P495 billion to promote the rice industry in three years.
Casilao said the bill, which he principally authored, would protect farmers from being unlawfully ejected from their fields while preventing the unnecessary conversion of agricultural lands to other uses.
It would also help strengthen the National Food Authority, provide free irrigation to farmers, offer socialized credit system, make available postharvest facilities, and finance research and development. —Marlon Ramos
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