Four years ago, the Republic Act No. 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law replaced the quantitative restrictions on imported rice with tariffs of 35 to 40 percent and established the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) funded by the tariff revenues (NEDA, 2022). The reason for pushing the liberalization of importation resonates with inflation as per the economic managers.
However, according to the reports by IBON Foundation, after the implementation of RTL, there was a decline in the income of the local farmers in 2020 as compared to the previous years. Prices of palay were seen on an average of Php 10-15/kilo in the country’s rice bowls. With these figures, local farmers won’t be able to compete with cheap imported rice. Additionally, food stability is also at risk as other nations, such as Thailand, refused to import their own to prioritize its own population. Undeniably, other bigger countries have the capacity to outspend the Philippines in the importation of rice.
As opposed to the claims of economic managers, the distress brought about is due to the negligence of the government to strengthen the agriculture sector despite the consistent calls for development and stability. We from Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines (YACAP) are one with the farmers in calling for the junking of this law and to support local production. As food security and stability is jeopardized, we demand from the current administration to repeal the Rice Tariffication Law and strengthen our local farmers and efficiently regulate the rice industry.