Militant farmers’ group chides Duterte for flip-flopping on order stopping rice imports

By Chito Chavez 

Militant farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) claimed that President Duterte’s underlings have disagreed with his ‘’no import’’ plan for rice known as the staple food in the country.

Rice output is expected to come in below average because of erratic rains, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization warned, adding that food insecurity 'continues to remain a key concern' (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN) (AFP / MB FILE PHOTO)

The group insisted “Duterte has only himself to blame for his flip-flopping on rice imports, saying he wants rice imports stopped now but his underlings wanted none of his pompous declaration and announced the imports would go on and on’’.

“Duterte’s feigned apology on the effects of rice liberalization is worthless.  Malacanang instantaneously clarified news reports on the order to suspend rice importation and even fortified its stance to uphold rice importation despite the snowballing demand that the insanity must stop,” added KMP chairperson emeritus Rafael Mariano.

"It’s such a shame that Duterte wants the Philippines, an agricultural country, to remain as the world’s top rice importer," a dismayed Mariano noted.

Mariano stressed farmers, consumers, stakeholders and ‘’all Filipinos must protest the regime’s  neglect of rice producers and economic sabotage of the multi-billion rice industry, which contributes more than 25 percent of the country’s farm output’’.

“The broad November 20 national day of action against rice liberalization law is just the start,’’ Mariano noted.

He said that farmers and rice stakeholders will soon launch a national caravan to gather petition signatures for the junking of Republic Act No.11203 (RA 11203), also known as the Rice Trade Liberalization (RTL) law.

KMP said the government practically threw the local rice industry into the trash bin when it signed RA 11203 in February 2019 and abandoned the regime’s duty to ensure the food security of Filipinos.

“Duterte may lose whatever political support that he is still enjoying right now because of his stance to continue rice importation. Rice liberalization policy strikes the masses at the gut level. Even the middle class and certain sections in business community felt insulted when the economic managers rejected proposals for safeguard measures to counter the effects of RA11203, as provided for in RA 8800. The issue of rice liberalization could lead to Duterte’s political isolation from broad social sectors and the people at large. Only big rice importers and oligarchs are siding with Duterte on this matter,” Mariano concluded.