Senatorial candidate and former senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said he would have voted against the passage of the Rice Tariffication Law had he been elected a senator in 2019.
In an interview with ANC’s Headstart, Ejercito said he would not have supported the Rice Tariffication Law since he is opposed to excessive importation.
“Farmers are already one of the poorest sectors in society. Tapos, pumasok pa yung mga imported na products, lalo na silang walang kikitain,” Ejercito said.
Ejercito is currently seeking another Senate comeback in the upcoming May 2022 elections.
According to the senatorial bet, the national government should have focused on implementing the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Law, which he principally authored.
Ejercito also said the government could have done more in restricting the issuance of import authorities.
“Sad to say, (since) it’s passage in 2015, no big-time smuggler has been arrested under this law. What’s happening is that, left and right, the agencies were issuing letters of authority to import. Import nalang tayo nang import (We’re always importing),” he said.
“I believe that this has to be reviewed, that unscrupulous issuance of import authorities. We have to support our agricultural sector,” Ejercito emphasized.
Republic Act No. 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Act liberalized the importation, exportation, and trading of rice and removed quantitative restrictions on rice imports.
But various groups have criticized the said Act for allowing imports to flood the country’s local rice market to the detriment of local rice farmers who are forced to sell their produce at lower prices.