Lawmakers seek rice tariff law amendment

September 09, 2019

LIBERAL Party (LP) lawmakers are set to file a joint resolution seeking to amend Republic Act 11203 otherwise known as the Rice Tariffication Law.

Led by the party’s Secretary General, Quezon City Rep. Kit Belmonte, the LP expressed concern over the outcry of farmers over the entry of imported rice.

To date, the price of local unmilled rice (palay) was pegged at a low of P7 to P8 per kilo.

According to Belmonte, there is a need to review and, if possible, repeal the Rice Tarrification Law.

Belmonte said he and his party-mates at the House of Representatives will push for the adoption of a resolution that would help the Executive Department explore more sources of funds for direct cash transfers for the distraught rice farmers.

“It is our responsibility as legislators to help our farmers who are potentially on the brink of extinction. The state has failed them over the past decades for not equipping them with enough safeguards for this eventual massive rice importation,” Belmonte said.

Last Thursday, LP president Sen. Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan filed a joint resolution calling for an amendment to the Rice Tarrification Law and allow a P13-billion immediate cash assistance to rice farmers.

He pointed to two possible sources of direct cash transfers to rice farmers: the fund balance of P4 billion of the P10 billion appropriated for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) under the unprogrammed appropriations of the 2019 national budget, and the P9.19 billion collected as tariff revenues from rice importation from  March 5 to August 21, 2019.

For her part Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Sato said the government should act fast to save the agricultural sector.

“Matindi ang daing sa amin ng mga magsasaka sa aming lalawigan at kinakailangan na talagang kumilos para matulungan sila, bilang sila ang mga nagpapakain sa sambayanan,” Sato said.

Sato, who hails from a rice-producing province in Mimaropa (Mindoro-Marindique-Romblon-Palawan), confirmed reports that the prices of palay have plummeted to 7-8 pesos as relayed to her by the farmers in the region.