Transcript of interview with Sen. Cynthia Villar after the Campaign Caravan Change in Las Pinas, March 6, 2019

Q: On El Nino

Villar: The Department of Agriculture has been saying that, in the first place, they talked to the Air Force for their cloud seeding to encourage the rain. Then they will give seeds to a little change in the planting season to allow less water to be planted and not to plant more water. The planting season will reschedule and crops will vary as we can not fight El Nino. This is a natural phenomenon so we will do everything in order not to affect the farmers in El Nino.

Q: What are these crops?

Villar: There are vegetables that do not need too much water. If you do not have the water you need to plant it does not require more water. And they know that, they will be distributing seeds then the planting season will vary somewhat.

Q: In rice tariffication law, the price of rice will be higher? Can our countrymen buy P25 NFA rice?

Villar: No, no. No change in NFA budget yet, P7 billion still. The instruction to them do not interfere with imports, they choose locally. They use their money to shop for local rice farmers. So why would they lose the supply of local rice?

Q: Your local rice will sell them in a lower price also?

Villar: It really should be lower, but the range is P27 to P32. They will buy it after they sell P27 per kilo. That's P7 billion that's what they're going to be working capital because they're not distributing rice, they're also selling it P7 billion that's their working capital. They spin your P7 billion.

Q: Can you still buy cheap rice after August?

Villar: Yes, much worse. Last time we did not buy cheap diba, P45, P55, P65, why we worry about it now? In fact, our inflation rate has dropped, 3.8 percent, within the range of Central Bank from 2 to 4. Formerly 6.7.

Q: Are not our local farmers worried about buying this NFA?

Villar: They will be paid. How much is the minimum price for them P17? That's the rule, eh. In fact, now P20 is still premium P3. But the real guideline is they buy the rice from the local farmers at P17. The investment there is local farm, ers, P12, so they have P5 for every kilo.

Q: Is that rice tariffication used to issue you?

Villar: Why would it matter to me? Rice tariffs will be imported to import rice to protect local farmers. And your tax returns will be offered to local farmers so they will be competitive. That's what's called the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund or RCEF.

Q: On NFA

Villar: How much money did the NFA to buy rice cost? The same system. Here, tax is imported. Then all tax proceeds will be given to local farmers to give them machinery, give them seeds, give them credit, give them training. We can not do anything because we have been in 1997 by WTO agreement that after 22 years, you will lift your quantitative restriction on importation of rice so we need to import it to protect local farmers. And your tariffs that we can collect there will give local farmers the opportunity to use them to mechanize, give them better seeds, give them better credit and give them training through TESDA.

Q: No one should be scared?

Villar: They have nothing to fear. Do not you think that letting you lose your cartel business?

Q: How can we eliminate your smuggling?

Villar: Whether they collect or not, the national budget is set to P10 billion for the local farmers. Customs problems you collect because whether they collect or not, they will give P10 billion a year the local farmers.

Q: On implementation of rice tariffication

Villar: Yes, I think this is a good model. Of course, it's a good thing to do that is a big thing, so I'm a senator, I'll oversee it. I will watch how they will spend the RCEF and make sure that this Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund that comes from the tariff can be used properly so that our farmers can produce cheap rice because of mechanization and better seeds and training and cheap credit.

Q: On coco levy veto bill

Villar: Let's refile. We will refile it as soon as we come back to Congress. I will assure you that within the year, we will pass it again. At this time, it will not be vetoed. So we'll talk about what your reason for the veto is.

Q: Does the President say he wants to be more secure than corruption?

Villar: You know what corruption will depend on who will implement. Even though the beauty of the law is in full swing, there will be corruption. Now we, we oversight, we will see to it as much as possible, do not go to corruption. We have that oversight.

Q: What is your loophole?

Villar: They have details that they say are minor things that they should tell us right away so we address you that problem. But I will go back to the Senate, refile again and within the year I will try to pass it again.

Q: Forbes Magzine says, Senator Manny Villar is the richest pinoy. There is a need for your end to be in the Senate and Sec. Mark to be in DPWH?

Villar: We are grateful to God for the blessings given to us. You can hope that because God is kind to us, we will be doing well with our people.

Source: Senate of the Philippines