Ako Bicol eyes amendments of Rice Tarrification
By Paulo DS. Papa
Ako Bicol (AKB) Partylist 2nd nominee lawyer Raul Angelo Bongalon said their partylist group will initiate amendments to Republic Act No. 11203 or the Rice Tarrification Law (RTL) in the next Congress.
In a press conference at Villa Caceres Hotel in Naga City on Friday, Dec. 10, Bongalon said the amendments to the RTL is necessary insofar as it causes economic hardship among rice farmers.
Authored by Sen. Cynthia Villar, the RTL was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on Feb. 14, 2019.
According to rice farmers, the RTL resulted to low palay prices, from P19/kilo prior to the enactment of the RTL to P12 to P10/kilo after the law took effect.
The RTL removed government limits, called quantitative restrictions (QRs) on rice importation. Traders could now bring in unlimited volumes of rice at any time. RA 11203 far exceeded Philippine commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO) by deregulating the rice industry and eliminating practically all regulatory and trading functions of the National Food Authority (NFA) and reducing it to a buffer stocking and calamity relief agency. Aptly, the formal title of RA 11203 is “An Act Liberalizing the Importation, Exportation and Trading of Rice”.
Bongalon said he and his fellow AKB nominees will talk to rice farmers around Bicol region to get their sentiments about the ill-effects of the RTL.
“By the time na makapag-ani sinda and pwede nang iluwas sa mercado, ipapabakal, hababaon an presyo. Samantalang pag na milled na, nagin bagas na, halangkawon an presyo kan bagas. Harayoon an deperensya kan presyo kan paroy sa presyo kan bagas na pigbebenta duman sa Mercado,” Bongalo said.