Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 6) — Former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. is inclined to suspend the Rice Tariffication Law if elected president in 2022 as he sees continuous rice importation as unsustainable amid the country's poor financial position.
"We should minimize our importation. I know it’s easy to say but it’s not very easy to do. It will take a long while. I wouldn’t mind if we suspend the Rice Tarrification Law first," he said in the virtual forum “Halalan 2022 Para sa Agrikultura" hosted by the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) on Monday.
In 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the measure into law, hoping to lower the price of rice through importation.
The Rice Tariffication Law removes quantitative limits on rice trading and puts a minimum of 35% tariff on imports. But this has been hurting the income of local farmers, Marcos said.
"Earlier this year, NFA (National Food Authority) was buying at ₱12. Ang breakeven ng (The breakeven of a) farmer, ₱14, ₱15, ₱16," he added.
This forced local farmers to abandon their fields amid the lack of decent income, resulting in reduced production, he noted.
"That is a cycle that keep sucking us down into this importation hole, until you know we’re producing anything anymore, we are importing everything. And you know, we’re not in the best financial situation right now because of the pandemic and its effects on the economy," he said.
"We cannot sustain it," he added.
Marcos also claimed that the government is not providing enough support to the agriculture sector.
"Nobody wants to enter farming. There’s no money to be made. I have to say that because absolutely in my view the truth, they do not encourage our producers," he said.
He also noted that the country’s agriculture industry is lagging behind other nations in terms of automating the operations.
"We have to get the technology in there. We need to provide, in terms of technical, financial support," he added.