Duterte gov’t has no sense of responsibility for rice liberalization catastrophe – Anakpawis

Duterte gov’t has no sense of responsibility for rice liberalization catastrophe – Anakpawis

Manila, Philippines – As Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar denies that the implementation of the Republic Act 11203 Rice Liberalization Law has caused the rice farmers in the country of around P68 billion of losses, Anakpawis Party-list former representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao slammed it as the Duterte government having no sense of responsibility for the law’s catastrophic impact on the sector’s household incomes and resorted to futile and failed mass deception effort, in an attempt to absolve its liberalization policy in agriculture.

“Amid it is obvious that 2019 is characterized by the enactment of the Rice Liberalization Law, and the influx of more than 3 million metric tons of imported rice, the government still had the gall to acquit itself of responsibility. The cries of the rice farmers across the country is very simple, the law which liberalized the entry of imported rice in the local market has caused depressed farm gate prices of palay, and this caused their massive losses amid high cost of production,” Casilao said in a press statement.

He said that the exact amount of losses is a secondary issue, as groups reported various amounts due to their own computation, all based on government data. The Bantay Bigas rice watch claims that law caused the rice farmers of around P74.8 billion losses due to depressed farm gate prices.

“The message is simple, the law caused the depressed farm gate prices, from 2018 to 2019, then if the 2018 value of production of palay per kilo is to be multiplied by the volume of production for 2019, the total value could have been bigger. Thus, the difference is the losses incurred primarily by the farmers,” the former lawmaker who authored the Rice Industry Development Act (RIDA) bill during the 17th congress elaborated.

Bantay Bigas rice watch group computation’s was based on: the average value of production of palay per kilo in 2018 was at 20.19 per kilo, based on the P385 billion total value of production and little more than 19 million metric tons volume of production; in 2019, the average value of production per kilo was at P16.22 per kilo, or decline of about P4, based on the P305 billion total value of production and little more than 18.8 million metric tons volume production; if 2018 average value per kilo was maintained, the value could reach P380 billion, thus, the difference of P74.8 billion was the identified losses due to depressed farm gate prices.

“The very warning among indicators the government should take seriously is the dramatic decline of palay value of production from P385 billion in 2018 to P305 billion in 2019, or a P80 billion fall. This is an outright manifestation of a flawed economic and agricultural policy. A positive income means increase in value of production, this is obviously an epic failure in policy-making,” he slammed.

This is amid rising import dependency ratio for rice, which was at 5.99%, 6.56% and 13.83%, for 2016, 2017 and 2018. Last year’s 3.2 million metric tons of imported rice, on top of around 12.2 million metric tons local rice production, could result to 21% import dependency ratio.

“Rising import dependency ratio is obviously undermined self-sufficiency, this is a clear failure of the Duterte government. Eventually, its policy will destroy the local rice productive sector,” he warned.

He urged the people to put much attention to the pronouncements of the Duterte government, particularly the Department of Agriculture on downplaying the law’s impact on the more than 2 million rice farmers in the country.

“Look at how blockheaded the agriculture chief on blabbering on the amount of losses caused by the law, while concealing the undisputable tens of billions of peso-fall in value of palay production. His mandate is to improve production but his pronouncements favor the sector’s destruction,” he noted.

Casilao urged the rice farming sector in the country to rise up against the law and demand its repeal, as it is a constant threat to their livelihood, household incomes and tenure on land.

“Filipino rice farmers should realize that Duterte is no pro-farmer nor pro-Filipino. He is just a lowly lackey of foreign monopolies behind the World Trade Organization that dictates our country to open up our economy for imported rice. He is no champion but a scourge to rice farmers, and should be held accountable for this man-made catastrophe called rice liberalization,” he ended. ###

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