Proposed rice tariffication
We express our strong opposition to the policy of rice tariffication as it will definitely not address the root cause of continuous food insecurity, rice shortages and the worsening poverty in the country.
Rice tariffication favors domestic and international rice cartel operators and will further exploit the already exploited Filipino farmers and fishermen by forcing them to produce big bulks of rice, meat and fish just to meet the global dictum.
The plan is to impose tariffs in lieu of quantitative restrictions on rice imports including fish and meat. This is being pursued to supposedly arrest inflation by at least one percent, which only minimally lowers the prices of commodities.
The National Food Authority (NFA) would still be mandated as the sole authority to undertake the direct importation of rice for the purpose of ensuring food security and maintaining sufficient national buffer stocks. But there’s no assurance that the Filipinos will have food security considering the neo-liberal agreements signed by the previous administration.
Rice tariffication will remove tough government controls on all agricultural commodities and will oblige our domestic market to shift unnecessary resources to the global rice market and for competition purposes.
It will be a burden to all Filipinos especially the 60 million categorized as the poorest of the poor families because of the high possibility of price increase in all basic commodities like rice, fish, meat, canned goods, vegetables, bread, etc.
The price increases would be due to the bloating of rice import and to the unstable status of the global market that has been further intensified and legalized by the Train law.
In a country where landlessness, joblessness and homelessness proliferate, rice tariffication will not be of help for the majority of Filipinos. It will lead to farmers going bankrupt and drowning in debt and their displacement from their lands.
It will put farmers at a disadvantage especially because government has minimal support for them.
In order to address poverty, food shortage and inflation, Congress should pass instead the Genuine Agrarian Reform bill for it has the capacity to uplift the lives of the majority of Filipinos through rural aid like irrigation, calamity subsidy, installation of post-harvest facility, agrarian mechanization and the boosting of the local market.
Land conversion must stop because it contributes to the unceasing decrease in the size of tillable land that affects the annual productivity of agriculture thus shaking our food security.
Lastly, we want to reiterate that the right to safe, healthy and sustainable food system is a basic and universal human right that the Philippine government must provide. There is no need for rice tariffication including the imposition of new tax measures as these are not good for the Filipinos both in the public and private sector.
We pray that the government will hear and consider our intention. - Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes, Inc.
Frankly, I don’t think there is any overt effort by Duterte critics to work together to oust the administration.