A partylist congresswoman on Thursday urged the suspension of rice importation to alleviate the financial problem of farmers caused by low farm gate prices.
AAMBIS-Owa Party-list Rep. Sharon Garin said since there was no rice shortage at the moment, it was time to focus on local procurement.
Republic Act 11203, or the Rice Tariffication Law, liberalized the importation of the serial and only imposed a certain tax.
Before that law, there was a quota on rice importation that prompted the widespread smuggling.
However, Garin, chairperson of the House Committee on Economic Affairs, ruled out a total ban on importation or repeal of the law, citing the food security situation.
“While there is a need to revisit the law, repealing it would threaten the country’s food security and might do further damage than good,” she said.
She added: “Ensuring food security should go hand in hand with protecting the welfare of our farmers. We understand their plight. We need to find a balance between protecting our farmers and protecting Filipino consumers.”
Thus, Garin said reassessment of the law would be necessary for us to identify the gaps to fill,” Garin opined.
Garin’s statement came after the recent reports of the falling farm gate prices of palay (unhusked rice) beleaguering Filipino farmers.
In Negros Occidental, the Newton-Camingawan-Para Farmers Association based in Barangay Taloc has called for the government’s intervention to help them cope with the crisis.
The Office of the Provincial Agriculturist of Negros Occidental also revealed in a report that the buying price of palay has dropped to P10 to P13 from the previous price of P18 to P20 before the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law.
This developed as Garin reaffirmed that AAMBIS- Owa Party-list would fulfill its legislative mandate to push for legislation meant to protect small and marginalized farmers.
“We remain optimistic that an improved version of the Rice Tariffication Law will be ready before we reach the first-year mark since its enactment,” Garin said.