On Ph as top rice importer: Rice liberalization, Duterte’s socio-economic crime vs. the Filipino people – Anakpawis

On Ph as top rice importer
Rice liberalization, Duterte’s socio-economic crime vs. the Filipino people – Anakpawis

Manila, Philippines – As the Philippines is estimated to import a record-high of 3.1 million metric tons this year, even more than China’s 2.5 million metric tons, former Anakpawis Party-list lawmaker Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao accused the Duterte government of socio-economic crime against the Filipino people when it enacted the Republic Act 11203 or Rice Liberalization Law early this year. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated the said figures.

“By deliberately enacting a law, that is clearly detrimental to rice production, national food security based on self-sufficiency and self-reliance, then leading to food import-dependence, downgrading availability and accessibility of food, the Duterte regime is carrying out a socio-economic crime, and essentially violated the Filipino people’s inalienable right to food and free food and agricultural system,” Casilao said in a press statement.

The former lawmaker who staunchly opposed the law during the 17th congress is basing his claim to the violation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR). The ICESCR and UNDHR recognize the right to to adequate food as pillar of right to adequate standard of living. He also related that the move to liberalize the rice industry was an outright assault to the people’s freedom to determine our own national food and agricultural system, as dictated by the World Trade Organization – Agreement on Agriculture (WTO-AoA).

“Proponents of rice liberalization, all have justified the move with the country’s membership to the WTO, though, peasant and other sectors have already exposed its disadvantageous impact to society and economy,” he said.

He added that three million metric ton rice imports are equivalent to almost a quarter of the country’s rice production in 2017 and 2018. Around 86% of rice imports came from Thailand and Vietnam last year, at more than 1.5 million metric tons. There were also imports from India, China, Pakistan, Myanmar, Cambodia, Spain and Italy.

“Rice imports eating up a significant share in the gross supply in the domestic market is a bane to local rice farmers and synonymous to depressed farm gate prices and bankruptcy. It is what we are witnessing now. There should be no debate that Rice Liberalization Law is anti-peasant and anti-Filipino, thus, it should be urgently repealed,” he said.

As alternative, Casilao pushed for a nationalist and democratic rice program as expressed by House Bill 477 Rice Industry Development Act (RIDA) filed by lawmakers under the Makabayan bloc. It pushing to allocate a near half a billion pesos for the program for three years, comprising of: P185 billion for the three-year program, composed of the P25-billion Rice Production Socialized Credit Program, infrastructure and post-harvest facilities development, support to farm inputs, and research and development; and P310 billion for the National Food Authority’s (NFA) local palay procurement program.

“The bill is aimed to attaining national food security that is based on self-sufficiency and self-reliance, and not on rice imports. This recognizes the Filipino’s right to food and security of tenure of rice farmers. This is a pro-Filipino and pro-peasant bill, a total opposite of the Rice Liberalization Law. We urge the people to support this bill as solution to the chronic rice crisis in the country,” he ended. ###

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