Solon seeks review of Rice Tariffication law

MANILA -- Senator Francis Pangilinan is seeking a congressional inquiry to review the impact of the Rice Tariffication Act.

In a statement, Pangilinan filed Senate Resolution No. 36, which seeks to assess the impact of the law on farmers and the local rice industry.

Pangilinan said the resolution also aims to ensure that the law is being properly implemented, particularly the prudent management and utilization of the Rice Competitiveness Fund (RCEF).

The RCEF, which is funded by tariffs generated by rice imports, is set up to make the domestic rice industry more competitive through farm mechanization, access to better seeds, and more financing and extension services, among others.

He noted that the government's economic team pushed for the passage of the law due to high rice prices, with inflation reaching a nine-year high of 6.7 percent in September to October 2018.

The resolution cited Agriculture Secretary Manny PiAol, who said that the steep drop in farm-gate prices of palay (unhusked rice) four months after the implementation of the law will result in an estimated loss of PHP114 billion for Filipino farmers for the entire year.

Further citing the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the resolution also noted that the farm-gate price of palay end-June fell by 16.4 percent to PHP17.77 per kilo, compared to last year's PHP21.39 per kilogram.

Bukod sa mga datos na nabanggit, inaasahan nating makikinig ang mga kinauukulan sa mga magsasaka para malaman ang tunay na aba nilang kalagayan. Dapat nakatuon ang Senate hearing sa mga maliliit na magsasakang apektado ng batas (Aside from the mentioned data, we hope concerned government officials will listen to the farmers so that they understand the dire straits farmers face. Special focus should be on the small-holder palay producers taking the brunt of the impact of the law), Pangilinan said.

Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, also filed a similar resolution to prioritize the exercise of her committee's oversight function on the implementation of the law.

This is the protection measure we have in place for our local farmers in a tariffed regime we find ourselves in following the expiration of the agreement with the World Trade Organization. We believe in this law and for the sake of our farmers, we want it to succeed, Villar said.

The proposed Senate Resolution No. 39 directs a Senate inquiry into the implementation of Republic Act 11203 or the rice tariffication law to closely monitor its implementation by the designated government agencies, and to ensure that funds are allocated for the purpose actually intended. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency