63% of Pinoys support repeal of Rice Tariffication Law — survey


A PUBLiCUS Asia survey has found that most Filipinos support the repeal of the Republic Act (RA) 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law of 2019.

RA 11203 removed quantitative restrictions on rice imports in favor of a tariff system when it was signed into law by former President Rodrigo Duterte.

In the 2022 PAHAYAG 2nd quarter nationwide survey conducted from June 16 to 22 with 1,500 respondents, 63 percent said they “approve” or “strongly approve” of “repealing the Rice Tariffication Law.”

Eight percent said they “disapprove” or “strongly disapprove” of repealing the law, while 29 percent said they “neither approve nor disapprove” of the proposal.

PUBLiCUS executive director Aureli Sinsuat noted that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has yet to take a firm stance on the proposed repeal of the law.

“While President Marcos Jr. has ordered the Department of Agriculture to conduct a reassessment of the Rice Tariffication Law, with particular emphasis on the P10 billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund or RCEF for farmers, he has not made any public statement clearly supporting repeal of the law since taking office,” Sinsuat said in a statement on Wednesday, July 6.

“However, it is likely that President BBM will face significant pressure from farmers’ groups and their allies to adopt a more protectionist stance on agriculture in the coming months,” he added.

Higher rice prices if law repealed

Meanwhile, PUBLiCUS chief data scientist David Barua Yap Jr. pointed out that repealing RA 11203 and reintroducing restrictions on rice imports may cause higher rice prices in the consumer market.

“The RTL (Rice Tariffication Law) allows less expensive foreign rice to be sold in large supply on the Philippine market. According to President Duterte’s economic team, this has resulted in a seven-peso decrease in the per-kilo price of rice since 2018. However, repealing the RTL and reintroducing quantitative import restrictions would significantly reduce the supply of cheaper foreign rice on the market, and the overall available supply of rice in general,” Yap said.

“In essence, repealing the RTL in favor of a return to quantitative import restrictions would likely result in higher rice prices for consumers in the short term, or during the time when domestic supply is ramping up to compensate for the reduction in imports,” he added.

In this context, Yap said it would be advisable for the Department of Agriculture to consider the potential inflationary consequences of repeal when conducting its reassessment of the law.

“In a recent report, the Philippine Statistics Authority noted that the relatively high 6.1 percent inflation rate recorded in June 2022 was driven by rising food prices. Repealing the RTL would exert additional inflationary pressure on rice, the primary food staple of Filipino families. This is something the Department of Agriculture should consider during its reassessment of the law,” Yap said.