More than 50 lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Thursday filed a resolution seeking a supplemental P15-billion budget to allow the National Food Authority to buy unmilled rice from local farmers as prices plummet due to imports.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Thursday said two million bags of rice seeds would be distributed to farmers as one of the mitigating measures to ease the burden of those affected by the Rice Tariffication Law.
The House of Representatives is expected to set a record of sorts on Friday as it is poised to pass the P4.1-trillion proposed national budget for 2020 on second reading and on third and final reading on the same day.
The swift passage of the budget fulfills President Rodrigo Duterte’s desire to have the money measure approved soonest.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s certification of the proposed PP4.1-trillion national budget for 2020 conveys the importance of its passage to finance needed government programs and services.
“Government operations must never be hampered and our constitutional mandate to serve the Filipino people must prevail over partisan considerations,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
The House’s Joint Resolution 18 directs the NFA to use the amount for the urgent procurement of at least 750,000 metric tons of palay from local farmers at P20 per kilo and to sell NFA rice to consumers at P27 per kilo, Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas told reporters.
Lawmakers estimate that the NFA could only purchase at least 350,000 metric tons or 7 million sacks of palay at a farmgate price of P20 per kilo with its current P7-billion budget for buffer stocking for 2019.
The measure is needed to save local farmers from the effects of the liberalization of rice imports, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said.
“This is a multi-partisan resolution of the House. We really need to save our farmers from the ill effects of the import liberalization law,” Zarate said.
The Federation of Free Farmers said local farmers could have lost P40 billion in the first half of 2019 due to the steep drop in the prices of rough rice.