By Mario Casayuran
Senator Imee R. Marcos Friday appealed to President Duterte to temporarily freeze the importation of rice because it is already hurting Filipino farmers.
This after Marcos discovered during the public hearing of the budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) that imported rice are being stocked at warehouses of rice traders who bought them from rice-producing countries in Asia.
The DA said the top five rice supplying countries that rice traders bought from were Thailand, Vietnam, India, China and Pakistan.
The lady senator said that influx of imported rice was flooding the country and hurting Filipino farmers because of the implementation of the Rice Tarrification Law.
“Nananawagan ako kay Pangulong Duterte na mapatigil muna ang importasyon ng bigas. Maraming dahilan para wag muna tayong mag-import, dagdagan ng buwis. Patawan ng 800 percent na buwis, like Japan and Korea, they do that. Magpatupad ng mas mahigpit na sanitary and phytosanitary measures sa bigas, gaya ng ginagawa ng ibang bansa sa saging, pinya at sa lahat ng produkto ng Pilipinas.They keep that doing to us,” pahayag pa ni Marcos.(I call on the President to freeze the importation of rice. There are many reasons why the importation of rice should be frozen: Impose a 800 percent taxes like what Korea and Japan do. Impose a strict sanitary and phytosanitary measures on rice, just like what other countries do on banana pineapple and other Philippine products.)
Marcos said there was a cartel that has been smuggling of rice, and that there were rackets on rice warehousing by rice traders.
She noted the Rice Tarrification Law allows the President to stop the importation of rice when it negatively affects the earnings of farmers.
“Even without amending the rice tarrification law, tigil na pansamantala yang importation hanggang end of the year, hanggang mabawasan ang laman ng mga bodega, I want to say pwede ba tigilan na ang pag-import ng bigas hanggang maubos na yan, kasi eto na ang main crop, ngayon na ang panahon ng anihan,” pagtatapos ni Marcos. (Temporarily stop the importation of rice until the end of the year, until the rice contents of warehouses are reduced. Temporarily stop rice importation until the imported rice are consumed for palay is the main crop of our farmers.)