A group of opposition congressmen is set to file a resolution to amend the Rice Tariffication Law due to the sharp decrease in palay prices it blames on the implementation of that law.
Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato said that Department of Agriculture reports indicated palay prices in the Calabarzon area had dipped to as low as P7 to P8 per kilo.
Sato pressed the House of Representatives to “move quickly to help our farmers who are in a dire situation. They are gearing up for the worst harvest season in the history of palay production this September and October and we should be able to assist them in their most difficult time.”
The farmers, she said, are already reeling from the ill effects of rice tariffication that resulted in lower market price of the commodity but drastically affected their income.
Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte, secretary general of the Liberal Party, said the moribund political group would push for the adoption of a resolution “to help the executive branch look for more fund sources for direct cash transfer to farmers.”
“It is our responsibility as legislators to help our farmers who are potentially in the brink of extinction. The state has failed them over the past decades for not equipping them with enough safeguards for this eventual massive rice importation,” Ramirez-Sato added.
The two legislators said that their political party will press for the inclusion of rice farmers in the Pantawid Pamilya Program to help tide them over the hard times.
According to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, a decline in rice farmers’ income of 29 percent is projected when the Rice Tariffication Law is implemented.
The measure, which amends the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996, removes the quantitative restriction on rice importation and impose a 35-percent tariff on imports from Southeast Asian countries.
The new law is expected to liberalize imports of rice and expand the availability of cheaper rice.