Farmers group fears losing over P140B to Rice Tariffication Law, plans protest

Marje Pelayo

MANILA, Philippines – A group of farmers is planning a massive protest against the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law.

Federation of Free Farmers Chair Leonardo Montemayor said farmers might lose up to P140 billion or about P30,000 per hectare worth of income if the law’s implementation continues.

The group noted the significant drop in prices of palay from about P20/kg last year to only around P15/kg this year as a result of the unimpeded importation of rice in the country.

“This is more than 10 times the damage brought by Typhoon Yolanda to the agriculture sector in 2013, and it is all man-made,” Montemayor lamented.

Thus, the group is demanding compensation from the government to cope with the problem.

“We demand that all affected rice farmers be adequately compensated for their actual and projected losses,” Montemayor said.

He urged the government to triple the 35% tariff for rice imports in order to prevent an oversupply of imported rice in the market.

“We are feeling the painful effects na napakababa nung 35 (percent). Kulang po (that 35% is very low. It’s not enough),” Montemayor argued.

“Roughly in my calculation, it should be at least 100%, otherwise, malulunod tayo (sa bigas) (we’ll drown in rice),” he added.

The group is brewing a demonstration that can happen in the coming days as their way to air their grievances and in hopes that the government will reconsider reviewing the Rice Tariffication Law.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Finance (DOF), however, already expressed that they have no plans of amending the said law. – MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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