President-elect Bongbong Marcos has underscored the importance of the agriculture sector especially with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic to the Philippines.
“We should really learn our lessons from the pandemic. Huwag nating pababayaan yan (agriculture) (We should not neglect agriculture),” Marcos, 64, told select media Thursday, May 26 during a Facebook live interview.
“Kapag may dumating na krisis na ganyan ay ramdam na ramdam ng tao kulang ang pagkain for various reasons (If a crisis like that comes, the people really feel the shortage of food for various reasons),” he said.
The former UniTeam candidate said his aim is to “create the value chain for agriculture once again”.
Marcos said one thing that the incoming administration can do is review the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
The RCEF is a key component of Republic Act (RA) 11203, or the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).
Through RCEF, the law has facilitated the mechanization of the local farming process and provided farmers with quality inbred seeds, among other types of assistance meant to increase yield. However, not all farmers are fans of the RTL.
“So sa RCEF (With RCEF), tingnan natin ulit (let’s see) exactly what will be the effect, pag-aralan natin ng mabuti (let’s study it carefully) that if we ratify it now, what will be the effect on our farming community our farmers especially, they need protection. Hirap na hirap ang mga magsasaka (Our farmers have been suffering),” Marcos said.
“Pag-aralan natin ng mabuti, pag kaya ng ating magsasaka po suportahan natin ng gobyerno at kaya na sila mag-compete di, I-ratify na natin yun (Let’s study it carefully, let’s ratify it in order to allow our farmers to compete). But let’s protect our farmers,” he added.
The RTL, which did away with quantitative restrictions for rice imports in exchange for tariffs, was enacted in February 2019. Critics have branded it as the “rice import liberalization law,” since it basically opened the local market to cheaper, imported rice–much to the chagrin of Filipino farmers.
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