By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has made last-minute comment on the draft of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Rice Tariffication Law, delaying further the implementation of the much awaited liberalization of rice importation.
But Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said that after making such comments, he should be able to sign the law's IRR this week.
The Rice Tariffication Law, which will replace the volume restriction on rice imports with tariff, was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in February.
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) was the lead agency tasked to collate comments on the law's IRR and come up with its final version.
Piñol said that upon receiving the supposed final draft of the IRR, DA's legal team immediately subjected it to "legal scrubbing."
"We made comments," Piñol said. "Some NFA employees expressed their concern over the low remuneration for those employees who will be retrenched and retiring."
A source from NFA said that once the Rice Tariffication Law is on the roll, 25 percent of the agency's employees are set to avail of the retirement package offered to them by the government.
This, as the law stripped away some of the agency's major functions, including its mandate to regulate and stabilize market prices as well as the importation of rice for buffer stocking.
Piñol said he already returned the draft IRR to NEDA, including the comments they made.
The release of the IRR of the Rice Tariffication Law will pave the way for the law's actual implementation, which will effectively open up the Philippine market to more imported rice.