Safeguards in rice tariffication IRR not enough — KMP
MANILA, Philippines — The safeguards provided in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the rice tariffication law are not enough to cushion the impact of liberalizing rice importation, a farmers’ group said Tuesday.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said farmers from all over the country are worried that the massive importation of rice would endanger their livelihood and the country’s food security.
“The government has totally abandoned rice farmers. Worse, state forces have embarked on a killing spree of farmers who feed the nation,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said in a statement.
The KMP issued the statement after the Department of Agriculture (DA), National Economic Development Authority (Neda), and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released the IRR for the rice tariffication law.
“While NEDA is celebrating the issuance of the IRR, farmers are contemplating on their bleak future under this new law imposed by the Duterte administration,” Ramos said.
He noted that while the IRR boasted of decreasing rice prices, it did not mention that price of rice grains or “palay” are steadily declining, with prices as low as P14 to P15 per kilo in some areas in Nueva Ecija.
“Lugi na ang presyong ito. Kung bubuhos pa ang imported na bigas, paano pa makakabawi ang mga magsasaka? Mismo sila hindi na makakabili ng bigas at pagkain,” he said.
(This price is too low. If the imported rice comes in, how can farmers recover? They cannot even buy their own rice and food.)
“Walang totoong pagbaba ng presyo ng bigas (The retail price of rice did not really go down). What we actually have is a record-high volume of smuggled rice and annual increasing average retail prices of well-milled and commercial rice,” he added.
The KMP leader said rice farmers and peasant leaders from top rice-producing provinces — including Cagayan Valley, Ilocos, Cordillera, Kalinga, Nueva Ecija, Laguna, Bulacan, Iloilo, Negros, North Cotabato, and Bukidnon — are gathering at the National People’s Rice Congress in Quezon City to discuss the impending effects of the rice tariffication law or Republic Act 1103. /ee
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