QUEZON, Nueva Ecija – President Duterte certified as urgent the Rice Tariffication Bill to protect Filipino farmers from the influx of imported grains as a result of the removal of quantitative restriction being imposed by the World Trade Organization (WTO), a senator said here Sunday.
Sen. Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, lamented that farmers were being misled by some groups who stand against tariffication “to protect their own vested interests.”
Contrary to claims that it will result to the flooding of imported rice in the Philippine market, tariffication will make such importation beneficial to local rice producers, Villar told farmers during the Patimyas Ani Festival in this municipality.
The rice industry, she explained is set to be liberalized due to the expiration of quantitative restriction on June 30, 2017.
“Pag nag-liberalize ka nang walang tariff , kawawa ang mga farmers,” she said. “Di ba kaya mo tina-tariff ang imports para protektahan yung local producers mo?”
With the tariffication bill, she said, is the allocation of P10-billion a year Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) which is now included in the pending 2019 national budget.
The amount will be channeled through the PhilMec, PhilRice, and TESDA among other agencies to upgrade farmers technology and knowhow.
The fear of over importation, she explained further, appeared to be baseless since rice supply is actually limited in the world. It is only Asian countries, she said, that produce rice.
“So over importation will only lead to increase in prices of the staple which would also benefi t farmers,” Villar said.