Rice Tariffication Law: A Government Trap

Rice Tariffication Law: A Government Trap

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Ayenn De Sagun started this petition to RODRIGO DUTERTE and

Farmers have always been the backbone of our country. Agriculture plays a vital role in our economy up until now. But as years passed, agriculture in the Philippines faced a lot of circumstances. Our government always tries to propose and implement agricultural policies that will help our Filipino farmers, and promote our country’s agriculture. Being the country’s primary necessity, rice is a highly political commodity. The rice sector has always been a priority of our government leaders, among all the other agricultural sectors. Back in the 1970s, Philippines was self-sufficient in rice, and even exported to nearby countries like China, Indonesia, and Myanmar. But as our population increases, the land resources needed for the production of total rice requirement became limited, resulting to our country becoming a net rice importer. According to Simeon (2019), our country is the second largest rice importer in the world next to China, and Santiago (2019) stated that rice importation in 2017 were mainly from Thailand and Vietnam. Due to the rising inflation of rice price during 2018’s last quarter, and after NFA ran out of rice stocks, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Rice Tariffication Law last February 14, 2019. The Rice Tariffication Law, also known as the Rice Liberalization Act or Republic Act No. 11203, liberalizes the importation, exportation, trading of rice, lifting for the purpose the quantitative import restriction on rice. It amends the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996 and replace the quantitative restriction on rice imports. Its objectives are to provide an adequate and affordable food supply, and a maintainable, productive, and competitive rice industry. Although the Rice Tariffication Law is said to make our agriculture and economy grow, it is not an effective solution for our country’s current crisis due to the fact that our Filipino farmers will suffer under this new law, thus, our government need not to look outside our borders, but instead, give the financial support our local farmers need to be able to produce a high quality and sufficient amount of rice.

The Rice Tariffication Law has a greater negative impact for our economy despite having a lot of benefits. Pursuing a 100% rice self-sufficiency is an impossible goal, especially that Philippines is a third world country, foreign industries overpowering our local farmers, and rice becoming expensive for the poor, are some of its adverse effects.

First of all, we cannot really achieve a 100% rice self-sufficiency in reality. Though this goal is essential, we cannot always rely on other countries exporting their rice to our country. Rice shortage is inevitable and may suddenly occur, thus, Philippines will likely have a bigger political and economic problem. In addition to this, DA Secretary Manny Piñol (2019) disputed that climate change may affect our local rice suppliers, meanwhile, China’s increasing rice demand could persuade foreign suppliers to ship their rice there. Also, we can never expect a calamity to happen, thus, we should be open-minded about any country who can suffer from this and can eventually affect their economy. Secondly, passing this law will not boost our farmers’ profitability. If only our government focused on boosting and investing local production, our country will be able to achieve stable rice prices and supply. This RCEF is unlikely to be given out fairly to all farmers and be spent on farm machineries and such, especially because we have corrupt officials who use their power to manipulate what they want, which can result to the unachieved objective, which is a more competitive rice industry. Moreover, these farmers’ incomes are at stake since consumers will less likely buy products from them due to these rice imports, thus, farmers will be competing by lowering their rice prices, earning only a little profit from their hard work. During an interview with a local farmer, he mentioned that it is difficult to expect that the RCEF will proceed to the right beneficiaries, just like what happened to the coconut levy fund wherein no coconut farmers benefited, due to the misuse of fund of corrupt officials. Lastly, although we will be flooded with a lot of rice imports, have sufficient supply, and stabilize rice prices, this is not an advisable solution. As mentioned earlier, inevitable rice shortage from these rice exporting countries, along with low-earning farmers who may eventually stop farming due to other competitors and misallocation of fund, can result to an even heavier burden for our economy. Logically speaking, we may again experience a short supply of rice, thus, resulting to higher prices of products. Furthermore, if local farmers would stop their rice production, shortage of rice bran, a by-product of the rice milling process, and is used to make animal and aquaculture feeds, will eventually increase the prices of chicken and pork, thus, resulting to a problem for consumers. Also, a decrease in rice hull that serves as a fuel for biomass furnaces needed to produce electricity in the provinces will also lead to a higher demand for electricity, thus, another expenditure for consumers.

Passing the Rice Tariffication Law was not well thought of and the possible negative impact it may bring to our economy. Our government may be trying to help our country, but we believe that they are not doing their best. Rice self-sufficiency is a goal we cannot entirely achieve due to the fact that we are still a developing country. Furthermore, both farmers and ordinary consumers are at risk here since this is just a whole cycle of cause and effect, like a bunch of dominos falling on each other. Lastly, we cannot grow as an economy until there are leaders who abuse their power and use it for their own interests. Our government leaders should be focusing on producing and securing food for the next generations. We need to continue the planting and production of rice because 10 years from now, there will be insufficient rice supply if we rely on imports. Most importantly, provide our farmers the help that they need for them to be able to keep our economy together, being the backbone of our country. #SupportLocalFarmers

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