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BONTIA, Junne Bedeviere GE-FEL JSM TTH (4:30-6:00PM) GR232MC

DANUCO, Justine Chloe N.


DEMANDACO, Nerifriel A.
EMBRADO, Nicole A.
ESTOPIN, Jessica
MAGABILIN, Samantha Nicole
MALAZA, Andrea Delia Isabel
TERESO, Keisha F.
SUMMARY

Why rice farmers are crying for help after the Rice Tariffication Law

Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law otherwise known as the Rice
Liberalization Law, which removes the National Food Authority’s (NFA) power to import
and distribute cheaper rice (Tobias, 2019). It is an amended version of the Agricultural
Tariffication Act of 1996, was signed into law to help stem rising inflation which came
about during the last quarter of 2018 after the rice stocks of NFA ran out. According to
the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data, the number one contributor for inflation
was rice during September 2018. Due to this, farmers benefited from the highest selling
price for “palay” which was Php 22.00/kg at that time. Since rice was the number one
contributor to inflation and Filipinos were suffering from inflation, the government found
ways to temper with the rising inflation and thus the Rice Tariffication Law was
amended. As reported by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA),
the Rice Tariffication Law will benefit the impoverished and the farmers through lesser
rice price and government assistance. The Rice Tariffication Law also provides the
establishment of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) which will
provide a budget of Php 10 billion annually for the next six years for the development of
farm machinery and equipment, rice development, propagation and promotion, as well
as expanded rice credit and extension services.

In Duterte’s administration, the waiver that allowed restrictions was not renewed,
because of this our local rice production would have to compete with the imported rice
which has cheaper crops. The local rice farmers are affected because of the cheap
crops coming from foreign countries which puts their livelihood at stake. Supposedly,
due to this Rice Tariffication Law, rice prices would drop to P27 per kilo as projected by
the economic team of the government. However, they have not dropped yet as rice still
remains at P38-P45 per kilo. Since farmers earn less, they have no choice but to lower
down the prices of their crops to 8 pesos per kilo. Indeed, our rice-eating populace is
able to benefit from the amendment of the law but while consumers benefit from this,
the Rice Tariffication Law is hurting the livelihood of our local rice farmers.

Why is this a justice issue?

Farming is not an easy task. It requires processes such as propagation of seeds,


land preparation which involves machines and harrowing, then the transplanting of
weeds which is the last process before the farmers wait for 120 days before they can
harvest. All these processes involve so much time, effort and money but in the end, they
only earn P12 to P14 per kilogram, not even enough to buy food for themselves. It is
ironic that these farmers feed us with their crops but they couldn’t feed themselves.

Although this new law may provide assistance to farmers but it lacks safety and
security for them. To the farmers, they see this law as a threat by making them compete
with imports, making them more penniless. As stated by the Philippine Chamber of
Agriculture and Food, the amendment of the law has stripped off 95 billion worth of
income from our local farmers due to the influx of cheap rice. The law without a doubt is
affecting the livelihood of farmers and along with it, it also affects the lives of their
families. The main purpose of the Rice Tariffication Law is to grant liberalization of rice
imports while providing a healthy competition among rice traders while anticipating that
more supply will lessen the demand thus also lowering the price (Matahum Santos).
However, the law affects our local farmers negatively in such a way that when import
restrictions will be lifted and foreign competitors enter the market, they will be competing
with them and as a result, forcing them to lower their prices to make a sale. Most
farmers in the Philippines belong to the lower class of the society. With the
implementation of the law, the prices of rice may go down but along with it is also the
income of our local farmers.

Furthermore, this law hinders the growth of the agricultural sector of the
Philippines. If the rice imports were to increase, Filipino farmers will be stripped of their
rights as the main rice producer in the country. They will be forced to lower the selling
price of their rice which is currently, not even enough to sustain their livelihood and
families. If this were to continue, they may be forced out of their only subsistence and
eventually, the Philippines will cease to be an agricultural country.

The Rice Tariffication Law is an example of a justice issue since it allows rice
imports from foreign countries with cheaper price. This law may be how the government
tries to help with the inflation but the government should have also placed their concern
the 2.4 million rice farmers who would get poorer because of this law. Which in this
case, ensures the availability of a cheaper price for Filipino rice consumers but at the
expense of the local rice farmers by risking their livelihood. Is it just to let imports in,
have competitors for the already poor farmers to have cheaper rice prices for
consumers? Is it really just to let the poor become even poorer?

Sources:

Madarang, C. (2019, September 5). ​Why rice farmers are crying for help after the Rice
Tariffication Law.​ ​Retrieved from: http://www.interaksyon.com/politics-issues/
2019/09/05/154489/farmers-rice-tarrification-law-effects/

Rivas, R. (2019, September 4). ​Rice prices still not hitting P27/kilo as projected under
tariffication law. R ​ etrieved from:https://www.rappler.com/business/239354
rice-still-not-hitting-projected-price-under-tariffication-law-september-2019:

Tobias, A. (2019). ​The Philippine Rice Tariffication Law: Implications and Issues.
Retrieved from: http://ap.fftc.agnet.org/ap_db.php?id=960&print=1

The process of rice production. ​Retrieved from:https://steemit.com/agriculture/@pak


ganern/the-process-of-rice-production-in-philippines

Santos, M. (2019, February 14). R.A. 11203: ​The Rice Tariffication Law​. Retrieved from
https://thephilippineforum.com/r-a-11203-the-rice-tariffication-law-signed-into-law
-by-duterte-on-february-14-2109-full-text/