Makabayan bloc asks Duterte to suspend rice tarrification law
MANILA, Philippines — Opposition lawmakers at the House of Representatives are calling on President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend the implementation of the Republic Act No. 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Law that removed importation limits on rice.
Duterte signed the measure last February 14, and its implementing rules and regulations were issued later in April. The law replaces quantitative restrictions on imported rice with tariffs or taxes.
Agriculture Secretary Emannuel Piñol earlier said the law would stabilize prices of the staple food and would make farmers “competitive” if the tariff collected would be invested in local farms.
The House Makabayan bloc composed of Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, ACT Teachers Reps. Antonio Tinio, and France Castro, Gabriela Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago filed Resolution of Both Houses of Congress No. 18 on Tuesday.
In filing the bill, the lawmakers said the law triggered “depressed palay farm gate prices affecting Filipino rice farmers.”
The group also cites the “broad people’s demand to repeal the law” as well as the “national interest of food security, self-sufficiency and self-reliance” and “the protection of the welfare of Filipino rice farmers and poor consumers across the country.”
The farm gate price under the first quarter of 2019, according to them, “fell as casualty” to the RA 11203, when it “fell by 7.39% to P18.31 per kilo from previous year’s P19.77 per kilo.” This, they said, was amid the 4.46% decline in production to 4.416 million metric tons, from the previous year’s 4.622 million metric tons.
“Rice watch group Bantay Bigas monitored that farmers are ailing as palay prices fell to P13 to 14 per kilo in Nueva Ecija, P16 in Isabela, P14 to P15 in Laguna, and P14 per kilo in South Cotabato,” they added. (Editor: Eden Estopace)