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'Did farmers get help from P10-billion rice fund? Did rice prices go down?'

Pangilinan wants inquiry on impact of rice tarrification

/ 09:14 AM August 02, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan has called for a Senate inquiry into the impact of the Rice Tarrification Act on rice farmers and the local rice industry five months after the measure took effect.

In pushing for Senate Resolution No. 36, the opposition senator noted that about 200,000 farmers have stopped working on food production and 4,000 rice mills have stopped operating since the enactment of Republic Act No. 11203 in February this year.

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“Ang sumbong sa atin ng mga magsasaka, wala na silang kita pagkaraang ipatupad ang batas na ito. ‘Pinapatay kami ng rice tariffication,’ sabi ng isang magsasaka mula Nueva Ecija na lumapit sa atin kamakailan (Farmers tell us that their earnings dropped further with the implementation of the law. ‘Rice tariffication is killing us’ said one farmer from Nueva Ecija who approached us),” Pangilinan said in a statement, Friday.

The lawmaker also questioned the disbursement of the P10 billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) under the Rice Tarriffication law. RCEF, which is funded by tariffs generated by rice imports, is set up to make the domestic rice industry more competitive through farm mechanization, access to better seeds, and more financing and extension services, among others.

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Quoting Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, Pangilinan’s resolution noted that the steep drop in farm-gate prices of palay (unhusked rice) four months after the implementation of the law would result in an estimated loss of P114 billion for Filipino farmers for the entire year.

Farm-gate price of palay end-June fell by 16.4 percent to P17.77 per kilo, compared to last year’s P21.39 per kilogram, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Farmers groups claim that in some areas, the drop was as low as P12 per kilo.

Pangilinan also said rice consumers had complained that retail rice prices have not gone down as promised by the law.

On the second week of July, the PSA monitored the average retail price of regular- and well-milled rice ranging from P38.40 to P42.88 per kilo, the senator said. A week before the law took effect on March 5, rice prices in stores ranged from P40.65 to P44.58 per kilo.

“Mukhang pati mga consumers hindi nakinabang sa batas na ito dahil wala nang NFA rice, na noon ay P27 hanggang P30 lang kada kilo sa mga NFA outlet (Even consumers did not seem to benefit from this law because now we don’t have NFA rice, which then cost only P27 to P30 per kilo in NFA outlets),” said Pangilinan.

“Sino nakinabang sa kalakarang ito? Para tayong na-double whammy (Who benefited from this policy? It looks like we’ve been hit by a double whammy),” he added.  /muf

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TAGS: Kiko Pangilinan, news, Philippines, rice tarrification, Senate inquiry
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