Makabayan bloc: Duterte suspension order on rice importation only a ‘media stunt’
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to suspend rice importation during harvest season is only a “media stunt” to “appease” the public, the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives said Thursday.
The President earlier ordered Agriculture Secretary William Dar to suspend the importation of rice until the end of the harvest season at least and to buy palay (unhusked rice) from local farmers.
However, Dar on Thursday said that rice importation will continue under the Rice Tariffication Law, clarifying that Duterte only wants to strictly enforce guidelines on importation.
“It’s just a media stunt, it’s damage control dahil galit na galit ang mamamayan (because people are angry already),” Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said in a press conference.
“That’s the hallmark of this administration, it will issue statements just to appease the people and eventually babawiin niya (they will take it back),” he added.
The Makabayan lawmakers challenged Duterte to issue an executive order (EO) to formalize the suspension of rice importation and to “show his sincerity” in helping the disadvantaged Filipino farmers.
“Parang laway lang ito… Dapat bigyan ng pangil itong pagsasalita ni President Duterte sa pamamagitan ng EO,” ACT Teachers’ party-list Rep. France Castro said in the same press conference.
(It’s all talk for now. The President should issue an EO to enforce it.)
“President Duterte, kung sinsero ka, mag-issue ka ng EO at maglaan ng pondo para bilhin ang ani ngayon ng mga magsasaka,” she added.
(President Duterte, if you’re sincere, you should issue an EO and allocate funds to buy the harvest of local farmers.)
The lawmakers also challenged the Duterte administration to repeal the controversial Rice Tariffication law, which they claimed caused the price of palay (unhusked rice) to drop to the detriment of Filipino farmers.
The President should also certify as urgent proposed measures that seek to help local farmers, such as the Rice Industry Development Act (RIDA), they added.
“Hinahamon namin ang Duterte administration na i-certify as urgent yung mga panukala dito sa kongreso katulad ng RIDA at i-repeal na ‘yung rice liberalization law,” Zarate said.
(We challenge the Duterte administration to certify as urgent the RIDA as well as other bills in Congress, and repeal the rice liberalization law.)
The rice tariffication law, which was signed in February, lifted the quotas on rice importation and imposed tax. The law was intended to stabilize the rice supply in the country by liberalizing the rice industry.
Edited by JE
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