On the third anniversary of the enactment of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) challenged 2022 candidates to commit for its repeal. “RTL has destroyed the lives of millions of rice farmers. Candidates especially for national positions should be clearly against its continuation and for the enactment of a new law and program designed to genuinely strengthen local rice production. Three years of rice liberalizaiton is enough, repeal RTL now!” KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos says.
By removing quantitative restrictions on rice importation and replacing it with tariffs, the RTL was purported to be the solution to soaring rice prices in 2018. The government also promised to use the tariffs to support programs that will make Filipino rice farmers more “competitive.”
KMP insists, however, that since its enactment the RTL has wrecked the local rice industry and the country’s food self-security. “RTL endangered the welfare of both producers and consumers. It undermined the livelihoods of millions of rice farmers and pushed many into hunger, bankruptcy, and indebtedness, while retail prices remain unaffordable to poor families,” Ramos said.
RTL pulled down palay prices, reaching upto P10 per kilo according to rice watch group Bantay Bigas. Meanwhile, official government estimates put rice production costs at P15 per kilo. Bantay Bigas estimates that rice farmers lost a total of about P165 billion in income under the RTL.
The country’s rice self-sufficiency has steadily decreased each year under the Duterte administration from 95% in 2016 to 80% in 2020. “This is Duterte’s legacy: hunger and bankruptcy due to policy.”
The peasant leader instead urged candidates to support the enactment of House Bill 477 or the Rice Industry Development Act (RIDA), which outlines the genuine development of the domestic rice industry towards self-reliance.
“To avert the complete destruction of the local rice industry and agriculture, RTL must be repealed. Farmers have had enough of Duterte’s neoliberal policies such as unlimited imports,” Ramos ends. #