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Since the start of the tumultous year of 2019. The Philippines has since been slapped with back to back inflation due primarily of the governments refusal to remove its excise taxes on fuel (TRAIN Law) which resulted in the skyrocketing prices of goods and services including rice. As inflation rate rose at 10 year high alarms Duterte’s policy makers resulting in a desperate race of temporarily fixing the ricing prices of commodities such as rice which is Filipinos staple food.
The Duterte government along with its allies in the Congress passed an alarming Senate Bill 1998 and House Bill 7735, or an “Act Replacing the Quantitative Import Restrictions on Rice with Tariffs, Lifting the Quantitative Export Restrictions.” which endeavors to allows more rice cartels to import rice overseas therebey increasing the competition and of course in effect makes rice more ”cheaper” than before.
Of course? Duterte promised in 2016 that he wants rice to be at 16 peso per kilo which is exactly what he wants to happen.
Unfortunately, the stamp pad Congress who blindly passes the version of this bill to satisfy Duterte’s vision didn’t really care about its long term dire consequences.
Here, we have Cynthia Villar. One of the richest Senator in the halls of Congress. A real-estate mogul and has lived a life of luxury and power. She’s also the primary author and sponsor of Senate Bill 1998 which of course gave rice cartels the power to import more rice in the country.
This has caused a massive devaluation of local grown rice stocks which puts many farmers in a much graver economic situation. Many could no longer even earn a significant chunk of their harvest because of the many cheaper imports coming from other countries.
As a direct result of Villars sponsored Rice Tariffication Law. The average farmgate price of palay nationwide was recorded at P17.62 per kilo.
Here’s the data from the Philippine Stastics Authority regarding the price of local rice.
While I appreciate the governments efforts to try and control the run-away inflation which they themselves have caused in the first place. Still, the move to increase rice importation also hurt rice producers, mostly our local farmers.
Villar then describe the farmers as people who have no ”proper business sense”
“Many of our farmers do not earn money because they do not have the proper business sense. – Cynthia Villar”
Take note that the average rice farmer earns just around Php6,000 monthly on average which is far below even the official poverty threshold. Hundreds of thousands of marginal rice farmers are at risk of being displaced entirely.
“..Filipino farmers were now close to starvation and the government couldn’t care less..”
Their production costs have risen from the new and added oil excise taxes of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN). According to peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, a farmer uses 600 liters of diesel per hectare for land preparation and irrigation during harvest season. The group estimated that the first tranche of the excise levy alone will cost a farmer Php1,500 more in 2018, and Php2,700 more in 2019, and Php3,600 in 2020, or a total of Php7,800 for three consecutive years. Farmers are already facing lower buying prices for their palay under rice tariffication.
Who actually benefited from the Rice Tarrification Bill?
- Big Time Rice Importers / Rice Retailers
- Big Time Rice Smugglers
The government should put more emphasis in securing our food security. What would happen if many of our farmers moved on from farming? And other countries decides to stop their rice exports to prioritized their own people? How are we going to cope from that? Are we just going to starve?