LP finds unifying mission in saving farmers from imported doom
MANILA, Philippines—Liberal Party members are crossing chambers to back a resolution amending the Rice Tariffication Law which Sen. Francis Pangilinan, LP president, said was making life worse for Philippine farmers.
Pangilinan had earlier filed a resolution seeking a P13 billon emergency assistance aid for rice farmers.
In a statement on Monday (Sept. 9), Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato and Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte supported Pangilinan’s proposal for an emergency assistance aid to farmers which are now suffering from ridiculously low palay (unhusked rice) prices of P7 to P8 per kg.
“We need to move quickly,” said Sato. Farmers, she said, are facing “the worst harvest season in the history of palay production this September and October.”
“We should be able to assist them in their most difficult time,” she said.
Belmonte, LP secretary general, meanwhile said he and other LP members at the House, where the ranks of the once ruling party had been decimated, would push for a resolution to help the Executive explore other sources of funding for direct cash transfer to farmers.
Belmonte said funds can be taken from whatever is left of the P10 billion in Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Act in unprogrammed appropriations in the 2019 budget and P9 billion in duties collected from imported rice from March 5 to Aug. 31, 2019.
Republic Act No. 11203, signed into law in February 2019, removed volume limits on importation of rice and replaced it with tariffs.
The militant House Makabayan bloc called for the repeal of the law saying it “has visibly produced disastrous” results for farmers and consumers.
The bloc said the law, which was passed in a bid to lower rice prices blamed for runaway inflation in 2018, failed to achieve its purpose.
As of the second week of August, retail prices of regular and well-milled rice remained high at P38.38 per kilo and P42.71 per kilo, respectively, despite massive importation of cheap rice, according to the progressive lawmakers.
The group is composed of Bayan Muna Representatives Carlos Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat, and Ferdinand Gaite, ACT Teachers Representatives France Castro, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago/TSB
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