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Groups hit gov’t denials on ills of rice tariff law

By: - Correspondent / @melvingasconINQ
/ 04:35 AM March 08, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Militant partylist groups on Saturday blasted the alleged continuing denials by top agriculture officials on the ill effects of the rice tariffication law by allegedly citing government data to conceal its negative impact on local farmers.

House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate scored pronouncements by Agriculture Secretary William Dar dismissing claims that the implementation of Republic Act No. 11203 had cost the country’s rice farmers around P68 billion in losses.

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“[This is] a disservice and a cruel act against Filipino farmers,” he said.

Higher production cost

According to Zarate, the farm-gate price of palay had dipped to just P5 to P7 per kilo, while the production cost per kilo had risen to P12 to P17 since the law took effect early last year.

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The rice tariffication law has led to the influx of more than 3 million metric tons of imported rice, he said.

Former Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao expressed concern over figures cited by rice watch group Bantay Bigas, claiming that the rice tariffication law had caused rice farmers around P74.8 billion in losses due to “depressed farm-gate prices.”

“The message is simple: the law caused the depressed farm-gate prices … and the difference is the losses incurred primarily by the farmers,” said Casilao, a former lawmaker who authored the Rice Industry Development Act (Rida) bill during the 17th Congress.

‘Warning indicator’

The group’s computation, Casilao said, was based on the average value of production of palay per kilo in 2018 which was at P20.19 per kilo, based on the P385 billion total value of production and little more than 19 million MT volume of production.

In 2019, the average value of production per kilo was at P16.22 per kilo, or decline of about P4, based on the P305 billion total value of production and little more than 18.8 million MT volume production, he said.

“If 2018 average value per kilo was maintained, the value could reach P380 billion, thus, the difference of P74.8 billion was the identified losses due to depressed farm gate prices,” he said.

According to Casilao, the “warning indicator” that the government should take seriously is the dramatic decline of palay value of production.

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TAGS: Ariel Casilao, Bayan Muna, Carlos Isagani Zarate, rice farmers, Rice Tariffication Law, William Dar
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