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Makabayan bloc calls for repeal of rice tariffication law

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The Makabayan bloc renewed its call for the repeal of the rice tariffication law, saying it “has visibly produced disastrous impacts to farmers, millers and consumers instead of the supposed benefits.”

“The signs of the times reaffirm the need to repeal a measure that has ensured immense profit for rice traders, has starved our farmers and their families, and has wreaked havoc to our local rice industry,” the group of opposition lawmakers said.

“As of the second week of August, retail prices of regular and well-milled rice remain high at P38.38 per kilo and P42.71 per kilo, respectively, despite massive importation of cheap rice,” tthe group said.

“This is a far cry from the projections of the Duterte administration’s economic team that the retail price of rice would drop to as low as P27 per kilo once cheap imported rice enters the local market under the rice liberalization and tariffication law,” Makabayan said.

Meanwhile, the farmgate price of palay has plunged to as low as P7 per kilo in specific provinces, causing huge income losses and bankruptcy among farmers and millers,” the lawmakers said.

“This is way below the average production cost of palay at P12 per kilo. This spells doom and hunger for at least 2.4 million rice farmers nationwide, and portends more closures and shutdowns of rice milling facilities in various regions. At present, more than 40 percent of rice millers have stopped their operations,” they added.

“President Duterte’s order to the National Food Authority to purchase palay from local producers is a welcome step. Government should embark on massive buying of all palay harvest nationwide and finance the P20 per kilo subsidy to rice farmers as immediate measures to aid our local farmers,” Makabayan said.

But beyond that, President Rodrigo Duterte should immediately move for the repeal of the rice liberalization and tariffication law, it added.

The group is composed of Bayan Muna party-list Reps. Carlos Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat and Ferdinand Gaite, Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro and Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago.

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