Farmers group fears losing over P140B to Rice Tariffication Law, plans protest

Marje Pelayo   •   November 18, 2019   •   181

MANILA, Philippines – A group of farmers is planning a massive protest against the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law.

Federation of Free Farmers Chair Leonardo Montemayor said farmers might lose up to P140 billion or about P30,000 per hectare worth of income if the law’s implementation continues.

The group noted the significant drop in prices of palay from about P20/kg last year to only around P15/kg this year as a result of the unimpeded importation of rice in the country.

“This is more than 10 times the damage brought by Typhoon Yolanda to the agriculture sector in 2013, and it is all man-made,” Montemayor lamented.

Thus, the group is demanding compensation from the government to cope with the problem.

“We demand that all affected rice farmers be adequately compensated for their actual and projected losses,” Montemayor said.

He urged the government to triple the 35% tariff for rice imports in order to prevent an oversupply of imported rice in the market.

“We are feeling the painful effects na napakababa nung 35 (percent). Kulang po (that 35% is very low. It’s not enough),” Montemayor argued.

“Roughly in my calculation, it should be at least 100%, otherwise, malulunod tayo (sa bigas) (we’ll drown in rice),” he added.

The group is brewing a demonstration that can happen in the coming days as their way to air their grievances and in hopes that the government will reconsider reviewing the Rice Tariffication Law.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Finance (DOF), however, already expressed that they have no plans of amending the said law. – MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Multi-sectoral group calls for repeal of rice liberalization law; doubts Duterte’s sincerity in suspending rice importation

Maris Federez   •   November 20, 2019

A multi-sectoral group expressed doubts on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s sincerity when he announced that he is ordering the temporary suspension of rice importation in the country.

The group went on to call for the stoppage of the implementation of the Rice Liberalization Law.

The group claimed that the President’s pronouncement may be just like what happened to the other promises he made but were left unfulfilled.

The President made the announcement to address the complaints of farmers of the severely low price of palay as imported rice flooded the local market brought about by the Rice Tariffication Law.

The Bantay Bigas group doubts the President’s sincerity.

“Puro salita […] Wala siyang inisyu na Executive Order para ipakita na talagang sinsero siya doon sa ihinto iyong rice importation (All talk […] He didn’t issue any Executive Order to show that he is sincere in stopping the rice importation),” said Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), on the other hand, dared the President to make good on his announcement to suspend the rice importation as it called on the National Food Authority (NFA) to buy the farmers’ palay at a price not lower than P20 per kilogram.

“Stop killing the rice industry. Save the rice farmers,” said KMP Chairman Rafael Mariano.

The group suggested that the President may direct Congress to suspend and review the Rice Liberalization Law.

Meanwhile, President Duterte will meet with Agriculture Secretary William Dar to discuss the planned suspension of rice importation. (from the report of Mai Bermudez) /mbmf

Duterte orders DA to suspend rice importation

Marje Pelayo   •   November 20, 2019

Filipino port workers unload sacks of rice, which are imported from Vietnam to be distributed by the National Food Authority (NFA), inside a ship docked at Surigao port, Mindanao, southern Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday (November 19) said he has ordered Agriculture Sec. William Dar to suspend rice importation because it’s harvest time for local rice.

He clarified, however, that rice importation is still necessary to maintain enough volume of rice supply in the country.

“Ang problema, hindi ka kasi makaasa dito sa producers (The problem is you cannot depend on the producers),” the President said.

“Magsabi sila: ‘Makatanim kami. Ma-harvest lang namin, (They should tell us: “We’ll plant rice. Give us time to harvest) we can fill up two-thirds or one-third of the requirement.’ Correct. Iyan ang sabi mo, pero hindi mo alam ang sitwasyon ng mundo mo (That’s what you believe but you don’t really know what’s happening in your industry),” he added.

Even so, the President said he has no plans of suspending the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law because he believes the law will solve problems in corruption in the country’s rice industry.

“What is the other remedy? Nothing. I cannot stop tariffication. Why? To erase corruption,” he said.

He also stressed that balancing rice supply through importation will prevent ‘food crisis.’

The President, nevertheless, assured that the government is willing to spend funds to support the needs of local farmers. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

DA reserves P3-B for next year to support more farmers affected by rice tariff law

Marje Pelayo   •   November 19, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) will reserve P3 billion for the next batch of farmers affected by the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).

Agriculture Secretary William Dar clarified that only those farmers who yield one to two hectares of farmland may avail of the P5,000 unconditional cash transfer.

Also, the distribution of rice to beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) will begin next week in lieu of the supposed rice cash allowance.

The rice supply for the said program will come from farmers to help them dispose of their yield and cope up with the struggles of the plummeting price of rice in local markets.

The DA is also looking into cases of smuggling of rice and other agricultural products into the country.

Dar, meanwhile, asked farmers who will be staging a protest on Wednesday to consider what the Department is currently doing to ease the effect of RTL. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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