By Marjaleen Ramos
President Rodrigo Duterte apologized to local rice farmers for the continuous decline of the grain staple in the country.
“Ang sinasabi ko lang sa taumbayan is that do not despair. We can always correct the wrong. I apologize to you if the result we wanted to get during the early days of my administration has been well, delayed or not good, not to your expectations,” Duterte said in an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN News’ Ted Failon.
“If I can’t help you, then I have no business being here. I have the goal, I will immediately do something about it,” he added.
Duterte, however, said that he would not repeal the rice tariffication law as it might result in a food crisis.
“I am not ready to do that. I do not want to have a crisis again. Kasi ito may problema, it is just a problem. Pero pag wala kang pagkain para sa tao, that is different,” Duterte said.
“You have a more serious challenge there. And may be hard to resolve, until there is really food on the table,” he added.
Prices of palay continues to drop as more rice imports enter the country, which prompted local rice farmers to call for the immediate repeal of the Rice Tariffication law.
It was in February when Duterte signed the Rice Tariffication Law, a measure imposing tariffs on rice imports in place of a quota system.
Duterte for his part believes that it is impossible for the country to be rice sufficient.
“If you ask me if we can be rice sufficient, I don’t think so,” he said.
The President, however, assured that he would meet with the farmers to help them with their problems.
“I will ask my office to arrange for a meeting with them. If it’s possible to get them to one place so that I will listen and I will resolve the problem,” he said.
Duterte also vowed that he would personally inspect the projects as well as the machines that cannot be used by the farmers. “If they are not working for your needs, magpalit tayo ng bago.”
“Maybe, along the way, I might find out what’s the truth and I will correct it.”