Boxing icon and Sen. Manny Pacquiao has sought a Senate inquiry into the implementation of the Rice Tarrification Law, particularly the utilization of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
In a resolution, Pacquiao said the purpose of Republic Act (RA) 11203, also known as the Rice Tariffication Law, is to ensure food security and to make the country’s agriculture sector viable, efficient, and globally competitive.
President Duterte signed RA 11203 on Feb. 14, 2019.
‘’But after more than a year of its implementation, we have yet to fully account for the utilization of the RCEF,’’ Pacquiao stressed.
Pacquiao said that before the implementation of RA 11203, the farm gate price of palay averaged P21.39 per kilo but when imported rice started flooding the market, it instantly dropped to P17.88 per kilo.
Recent accounts from farmers disclosed that in Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Sorsogon, Tarlac, and Laguna, the farm gate price is P7 up to P10 per kilo.
Pacquiao said RA 11203 has provided the framework for the establishment of the RCEF which was set up to improve rice farmers’ competitiveness and income amid liberalization of the Philippine rice trade policy that lifted quantitative restrictions on rice imports and replaced it with tariffs, among others.
The RCEF or the Rice Fund has a P10-billion annual appropriation for the next six years which will be drawn from taxes generated from rice import tariffs.
The Department of Finance (DoF) and the Bureau of Customs (BoC) which are the lead agencies responsible for the collection of the import tariffs must account for the volume of rice imports since the lifting of the quantitative restriction on rice imports, the amount of tariffs collected, and the amount allocated to the RCEF, Pacquiao pointed out.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) which is primarily tasked to manage the RCEF must provide a complete and detailed report on the disbursement and the utilization of the fund which was supposed to cushion the impact of rice import liberalization to the Filipino farmers, he added.