Duterte’s defense of RA 11203, abandonment of Filipino rice farmers – Anakpawis
Manila, Philippines – As President Rodrigo Duterte announced his rejection of the farmers’ demand to repeal the Republic Act 11203 Rice Liberalization law, former Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao slammed it as clear abandonment of the welfare of more than two million rice farmers in the country.
“Duterte attempts to deceive the rice farmers by packaging his abandonment with an apology, as if it would reparate them from the tens of billions of pesos of losses incurred by his handiwork law,” Casilao, who opposed the law and primarily authored the Rice Industry Development Act (RIDA) bill during the 17th congress.
He claimed that if the decrease of farm gate prices this year averaged at P5 per kilo and multiplied to the volume of production in 2018, the potential losses would amount to more than P95 billion, or a staggering 25% of the gross value of production of palay which was at P385 billion.
“Duterte has consciously enacted the law that is now destroying the national rice industry and displacing millions of rice farmers. This is clearly a moral crime against the Filipino people faced with an snowballing opposition from the producer and consumer sectors,” he said.
Anakpawis is a lead organization in the 50,000-signature petition against RA 11203, recently submitted by the rice watchdog group Bantay Bigas to the House Committee on Agriculture and Food. The watchdog’s spokesperson Cathy Estavillo was the former third nominee for the last national election. It is positive that a national demand to repeal the law will be consolidated, especially, when various stakeholders’ groups held their press forum against it.
Former Anakpawis lawmaker and present Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Chairman Emeritus Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano joined the press forum in Quezon City with groups Bantay Bigas, Federation of Free Farmers, PAKISAMA, Katarungan, Solidarity of Agrarian Reform Alliance, PhilConGrains, National Food Authority-Employees Association (NFAEA), United Broilers and Raisers Association, Focus on the Global South-Philippines, National Movement for Food Sovereignty and among others, who demanded either suspension or repeal of the law.
“Duterte should now tremble in panic, as he himself knows that the farmers across the country have denounced him for enacting the law, pressing him to issue his useless apology. He is from Davao, he knows what happens when farmers are massing up and mobilizing,” the Davao City-hailed former lawmaker said.
Anakpawis will be joining the nationwide caravan for the petition against the law organized by Bantay Bigas and Amihan or National Federation of Peasant Women until February next year, marking the law’s first year of implementation.
“We urge the rice farmers in the regions and provinces, poor consumers to sign the petition against Duterte’s Rice Liberalization Law. We must express our abhorrence to his anti-peasant and anti-people measure. We must not let our children and the next generation be beggars for imported rice, just because of Duterte’s puppetry to foreign dictates. Let us repeal RA 11203,” he ended. ###