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Give cash aid to small farmers following drop in palay price — solon

/ 06:52 PM September 04, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Cash grants and concessional loans should be given to small and big rice farmers, respectively, following the drop in palay (unhusked rice) price in the country, Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda said.

In a recommendation letter sent to President Rodrigo Duterte, House Speaker Alan Cayetano, and Majority Leader Martin Romualdez on Tuesday, Salceda warned of “social, political and security” consequences if the drop in the farm-gate price of palay remain unresolved by the Duterte administration.

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Salceda also admitted that the Rice Tariffication Law had caused palay prices to drop to as low as P7 to P10 per kilo.

“With no offsetting measures, it has implications on the social, political and security dimensions of the country,” the administration lawmaker warned.

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Although a P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) for farmers was mandated under the Rice Liberalization law, “policy and implementation lags such as its appropriation from Congress can further exacerbate the plight of farmers,” according to Salceda.

The benefits from the RCEF will slowly be felt by farmers by yearend until February 2020, Department of Agriculture Regional Director Roy Abaya said Monday.

READ: DA says benefits of P10-B farmers’ fund to be felt starting yearend

With the “surge of rice imports and injury to domestic industry apparent,” Salceda said another option was to invoke Republic Act No. 8800 or the Safeguards Law to impose 30 to 80 percent tariff on imported rice outside the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) of 350,000 metric tons. 

“RA 8800 is well recognized under our commitments with the WTO [World Trade Organization] and the provisional measure has a maximum period of 1 year,” he argued.

The last resort is to ask Congress for special powers to impose quantitative restrictions (QRs) and to allocate for a special fund for cash transfers, according to Salceda.

Farm-gate prices of play have dropped significantly from P17.78 per kilo to as low as P14 per kilo, even at P7 reported in Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, and Ilocos Norte. 

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READ: NFA exec belies P7-P8 palay price; DA, farmers say it’s happening

Magsasaka Rep. Argel Cabatbat said Republic Act No. 11203 signed February this year should be blamed for this. The law replaces QRs on imported rice with tariffs or taxes.

“Walang hustisya para sa mga magsasaka dahil sa Rice Tariffication Law, at nagagalit kami para sa sektor ng agrikultura dahil sa hindi makatotohanang datos na inilalabas ng gobyerno,” Cabatbat said in a statement.

“Nananawagan kami na kapakanan naman ng mga mahihirap nating kababayan ang unahin ng gobyerno, kaysa sa pamumulitika at pagpapasarap sa buhay,” he appealed. /je

READ: Probe sought as tariff law hurts rice farmers

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TAGS: Farmers, Joey Salceda, Rice Liberalization Law, Rice Tariffication Law
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