By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
A local farmers’ group said President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature on Rice Tariffication Act will pave the way for unbridled rice importation and increasing rice prices.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the Act is equivalent to a death sentence for the local rice industry and rice farmers.
It added that the law will directly affect 13.5 million palay farmers and their families, 17.5 million farm workers, and more than 10 million Filipinos dependent on NFA rice, 20,000 rice retailers and 55,000 rice mill workers.
“It’s the beginning of the end of the local rice industry. Even with the rice industry enhancement fund, the local rice industry do not stand a chance with massive rice imports,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said.
“Rice tariffication will only push the country to unprecedented hunger. Our decades of experience under the World Trade Organization proved that rice importation policy was never a guarantee of sufficient rice supply and lower rice prices,” Ramos added.
“Duterte has no hint of compassion towards Filipino farmers and the poor people with his string of anti-people policies. Last year he enacted the TRAIN Law, today, he signed the rice tariffication despite the strong calls for a veto of the bill,” he also said.
KMP, rice farmers and stakeholders in the rice industry will lead a series of protests this week against the Rice Tariffication Law.