Sen. Imee Marcos. INQUIRER.net file photo / CATHY MIRANDA
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte should impose a temporary freeze on rice importation in the country because of its adverse effect on poor local rice farmers, Senator Imee Marcos urged on Friday.
She issued the call after learning that tons of imported rice are currently stored in warehouses of traders since the rice tariffication was enacted into law.
The rice tariffication law lifted the quotas on rice importation and imposed tax. The law was intended to stabilize the rice supply in the country by liberalizing the rice industry.
The President should stop importation and order rice traders to deplete first the stocked rice until the end of December this year, she said.
“Even without amending the rice tarrification law, tigil na pansamantala yang importation hanggang end of the year, hanggang mabawasan ang laman ng mga bodega,” Marcos said in a statement.
(Rice importation should be temporarily stopped until the end of the year and until such time the supply inside the warehouses are depleted.)
“I want to say pwede ba tigilan na ang pag-import ng bigas hanggang maubos na yan, kasi eto na ang main crop, ngayon na ang panahon ng anihan,” she added.
(I want to say, can we stop rice importation until all the supply are used up because here comes the main crop, it’s now harvest season.)
Aside from temporarily stopping importation, Marcos further suggested that the government should impose additional taxes of up to 800 percent, as well as imposing stricter sanitary and phytosanitary measures on rice.
“Dagdagan ng buwis. Patawan ng 800 percent ba buwis, like Japan and Korea, they do that,” she said.
(Hike the tax. Impose 800 percent tax, like Japan and Korea, they do that.)
The neophyte senator noted that there are currently cartels and rice traders who are taking advantage of the law and hoarding rice importers to control the prices of rice.
Meanwhile, based on the latest reports from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) the buying price of palay (unhusked rice) as of the fourth week of September fell further to P15.82 a kilogram, down by 29.25 percent from the level in the same period last year.
This is the second week that the average farm gate price breached the P15-per-kilo mark and the second time it hit an eight-year low.
In a separate report, the PSA said palay production in the country between July and September might have fallen by 4.7 percent to 3.05 million metric tons (MT) from 2018’s output of 3.20 million MT.
This may be due to the shrinking harvest area for palay at 733,000 hectares, down 11.1 percent from 825,000 hectares last year. Some palay farmers were reported to have shifted to planting other crops due to the decline in palay prices. /jpv
READ: Palay prices continue to fall
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