Duterte not ready to scrap law on rice tariffs
President Duterte is not ready to scrap the rice tariffication law even with farmers reeling from the falling prices of palay because it may lead to another “food crisis.”
In an interview on ABS-CBN on Saturday night, the President said the “more serious challenge” was ensuring that the country had enough rice.
“I am not about ready to do that, I do not want to have a food crisis again. There might be a problem, it is just a serious problem, but if there is no more food for the people, that is different,” he said.
Stressing that the Philippines “cannot be rice sufficient,” he added: “You have a more serious challenge there, and maybe hard to resolve, until there is really food on the table.”
“Whether climate change, then you have the people growth, and the mismanaged problems in government, dealing with it is really solving the problem,” Mr. Duterte said.
The President made the remarks when asked to comment on a signature campaign by farmers for the repeal of the rice tariffication law, which was enacted only in February this year.
The law, enacted in response to a persistent rice shortage since last year, allowed additional rice imports at lower tariffs.
Farmers’ groups criticized the law for bringing in cheap rice that caused the fall of farmgate prices of palay, forcing farmers to sell produce at lower prices.
The President said he would arrange a meeting with rice farmers to “resolve the problem.”
“I will see to it that we can strike a happy balance between rice importation and the production of rice by the farmers. But if you ask me if we can be rice sufficient, I don’t think so … Frankly, I cannot give that,” he said.
“I just want to correct it. Maybe along the way I might be able to find out what’s the truth, and I will correct it,” Mr. Duterte said about the law.—JULIE M. AURELIO
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