Duterte urges farmers to give rice tariffication law a chance

Published January 10, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn Kabiling

President Rodrigo Duterte has urged farmers to give the rice tariffication law a chance, saying the agricultural sector and the economy would benefit in the long run.

Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during a press conference at Malacanang Palace in Manila on November 19, 2019. (Photo by TED ALJIBE / AFP)
President Rodrigo Duterte (Photo by TED ALJIBE / AFP)

The President made the appeal after distributing agricultural aid, including farm equipment, to farmers in Pigcawayan, Cotabato on Friday.

“To our dear farmers, let me take this opportunity to encourage you to give the Rice Tariffication Law a chance,” he said in his remarks. “Let me assure you that in the long run, this measure will not only help strengthen our economy, but also provide new opportunities for your sector.”

Republic Act No. 11203, signed by the president in February 2019, lifts import restrictions on rice and instead imposes a tariff system in a bid to boost the country’s rice supply.

Farmers, however, have complained of low domestic “palay” (rice before husking) prices due to the entry of cheap rice imports into the country. The government later announced plans to impose stringent measures to control the entry of rice imports into the country as well as extend cash subsidies to affected farmers.

In his remarks Friday, the president said he has left to the discretion of the Department of Agriculture the decision on the period of rice importation. “I leave it to DAR to make the projections, the timeline of when to import and when not to import.”

He noted that government should halt rice importation when the harvest season approaches, and purchase palay from local farmers. The local harvest, Duterte said, could help shore up the country’s rice stocks to prevent any shortage.

“Kaya sabi ko kay Secretary, kung malugi, mas mahal ang presyo ng tao, bilihin mo (I told Secretary, buy the palay even if we lose money, even if it is expensive)…Magpalugi tayo kay (Let’s take the loss because) part of that subsidy is really to help,” he said.