As farmers and consumer-led groups relaunch the petition signing for the repeal of Republic Act 11203 or the rice tariffication law, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) urged agriculture secretary Marcos Jr to consider the immediate review of the law that plunged rice farmers into deeper debt and poverty. The petition, started by Bantay Bigas in 2019, gathered more than 80,000 signatures nationwide.
KMP said the groups will gather more signatures and submit them to Congress and Malacanang so Marcos Jr would know the real stance and sentiments of the public on the skyrocketing prices of rice and food staples. During his campaign, Marcos Jr. promised to review the rice tariffication law.
“With the sharpening food inflation, the government must consider a thorough and conscientious review of the rice tariffication law which was proven disadvantageous to farmers and the domestic rice industry. A recommendation repealing the said law would be most welcome as it reflects the sentiments of the country’s rice farmers.
KMP is also urging Marcos Jr to certify as urgent proposed legislation that aims to develop the local rice industry. “House Bill 405 or the Rice Industry Development Act (RIDA) seeks to lift the rice industry from the multi-dimensional crisis that wasted away its productive capability, stunted its development, and forestalled our attainment of food security. RIDA is the result of extensive consultation with rice farmers, consumer groups, and other industry stakeholders.
“Our rice farmers are now paying dearly for the rice tariffication law. The country’s rice industry has ceased to be sustainable due to high production costs and low palay prices that keep our farmers indebted and poor. Its productivity is the lowest in the Asian region, making the country highly vulnerable to periodic shortfalls which rice cartels exploit to create a distribution crisis and manipulate prices. And with government propensity to import rice, our food security is now hitched to the foreign rice market,” according to peasant leader and former DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano.
“If Marcos Jr wants to address the food crisis and ensure adequate supply and affordable food for Filipinos, he must consider repealing the rice tariffication law,” Mariano concluded.
The online version of the petition can be read here: https://www.change.org/p/people-s-petition-to-repeal-republic-act-11203-rice-liberalization-law-and-enact-the-house-bill-405-rice-industry-development-act-rida