No TRO issued by SC to stop enforcement of EO 62 on reduced tariff on imported rice, other agri products

BY

The Supreme Court (SC) did not issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) that could have stopped the enforcement of Executive Order No. 62 which reduced the tariff on imported rice and other agricultural commodities from 35 to 15 percent.

Instead, the SC required the respondents in the petition filed by several farmer and other cooperative groups to comment on both the petition and the plea for TRO within 10 days from receipt of the resolution.

“The Court, without giving due course to the Petition and prayer for TRO, required the respondents to file their comments within a non-extendible period of 10 days from notice,” the SC said during its full court session on Wednesday, July 10.

This means that the pleaded TRO to stop enforcement of EO 62 has not been denied and will be resolved once the comment is filed.

The action by the SC on the petition challenging the constitutionality of EO 62 was announced in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, July 10, by SC Spokesperson Atty. Camille Sue Mae L. Ting.  

Those who filed the petition include the officers and members of the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag), Inc.; Federation of Free Farmers, Inc. (FFFI); United Broiler Raisers Association 1, Inc.; Sorosoro Ibaba Development Cooperative (SIDC); and Magsasaka Partylist representative Atty. Argel Cabatbat.

Named respondents in the petition were President Marcos, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan and Tariff Commission Chairperson Marilou Mendoza.   

In their petition, the SC was told that EO 62 would make the Philippines dependent on importation contrary to the state policy of self-reliant and independent economy under the Constitution.

They said “the issuance of EO 62 does not make our farmers more competitive; rather it is a threat to our farmers and fishers and to the entire economy.”

“Instead of protecting and supporting our farmers, EO 62 exposes our very own food producers to unfair foreign competition,” they also said.

They pointed out that “the danger of reduced tariffs for the next four years does not in any way make our country self- reliant; rather it makes us dependent on foreign produce.”

Earlier, Malacanang had said that EO 62 could bring down the price of rice in the market by P6 to P7 per kilo.     

The petitioners, through Atty. Virgie Lacsa Suarez, raised two substantive grounds to declare EO 62 unconstitutional, namely:

-- EO No. 62 violates the limitation/conditions set forth in the Flexible Clause of Republic Act 10863 which makes its issuance invalid and the its exercise tantamount to undue delegation of legislative powers.

-- EO 62 violates the state policy to develop a self-reliant and independent national economy effectively controlled by Filipinos and violate the constitutional mandate to protect the farmers from unfair competition and trade practices.     

They stressed that EO 62 violates RA 10863, the Flexible Clause of Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, which requires proper consultation, investigation, hearings and reports prior to the issuance of an order on tariff reduction.     

They said: “Despite the clear procedure that ensures the exercise of the petitioners of their constitutional right to due process, the issuance of EO 62 was issued in clear violation of the due process. This is tantamount to undue delegation of the delegated rule-making power of the President.”

At the same time, the groups told the SC that the lowering tariffs on products, specifically staple foods like rice and corn, poses significant challenges for local farmers as this could lead to an influx of cheaper imported goods, undermining domestic producers' and farmers' sales and products.   

“This is clearly detrimental to the farmers, who may struggle to compete with the lower prices of imported products. As a result, their livelihoods and the agricultural sector in general may suffer, which can exacerbate rural poverty and further drag economic disparity,” they stressed.