By Daphne Galvez | Inquirer.net
MANILA, Philippines — If elected president in 2022, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday said he favors the suspension of the rice tariffication law, saying that continuous and massive importation of the staple into the country is no longer sustainable amid the country’s poor financial position.
Marcos said the law, which was enacted in 2019 with the aim of lowering the price of rice in the country by removing quantitative limits on rice trading, is disastrous to farmers.
“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. These are all very long-term plans but in the short-term, there’s still much that we have to do,” he said in a forum hosted by the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc.
“I wouldn’t mind if we suspend the Rice Tariffication Law first, because it’s really destroying the… NFA is now buying at P18, P19. People don’t plant anymore at P19,” he added.
The law puts a minimum of 35% tariff on rice imports and this has been affecting the income of local farmers, Marcos said, forcing them to abandon their fields which in turn results in reduced production.
“That is a cycle that keeps sucking us down into this importation hole, until, you know, we’re not producing anything anymore, we are importing everything,” he said.
“We’re not in the best financial situation right now because of the pandemic and its effects on the economy. We cannot sustain it,” he added.
The former senator also pointed out that while the law has good intentions, it had “unintended consequences.”
“Kung babasahin mo ‘yung batas, mukhang tama naman. Pero ang naging effect sa katotohanan is ‘yun na nga, unintended consequences. Nasabayan pa tayo ng pandemic so bagsak talaga ang farmer ngayon, and they do not know how to make money anymore,” he said.
(If you read the law, it looks okay. But it had unintended consequences and there is an ongoing pandemic so our local farmers are really hurting. They don’t know how to make money anymore.)