Palace says rice importation to continue but with ‘stricter’ policies
MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang confirmed Friday that President Rodrigo Duterte has retracted his order to suspend rice importation amid local farmers’ complaints on low farmgate prices for palay after the rice tariffication law allowed the entry of bigger volumes of cheap imported rice.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said Thursday that Duterte changed his mind after he met with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo confirmed this, adding that the President also ordered the stricter implementation of importation standards.
“According to the Secretary of Agriculture, there was no need [to suspend rice importation]. They will just be strict on the requirements for importation. So apparently for now there is no need for that,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
He pointed out that the government, as ordered by the President, would buy all the produce of local farmers for the meantime.
In a speech Thursday night, Duterte said the government cannot stop the importation of rice as Filipinos are “visual” and would complain once they saw rice stocks go down.
“You know the Filipino is visual. ‘Pag nakita niya ‘yung mga bigas ganun na lang ‘yung mga sako, cavanes, magdadaldal ‘yun, ‘wala na tayong pagkain'” [When they saw our rice stocks go down, they would complain that we have nothing to eat],” he said.
Republic Act 11203, signed by Duterte early this year, lifts the import limit on rice and instead imposes tariffs on the staple.
The law aims to boost the supply of rice in the country, but local farmers are reportedly suffering from the influx of imported cheap rice.
Edited by JPV
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