DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The recent admission made by President Rodrigo Duterte saying that the country would never achieve rice self-sufficiency is a clear admission that attainment of rice self-sufficiency and food security is not in the economic agenda of the present administration.
“With his shameful admission that the country would never achieve rice self-sufficiency, it is clear as daylight that Duterte has no intention to address the nationwide hunger felt by Filipinos. The President would prefer that Filipinos buy and eat imported rice and noodles from China,” said Rafael Mariano, chairperson emeritus of the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.
In the midst of the rice shortage, high rice prices and worsening nationwide hunger, Mariano said Duterte has affirmed his priority and support to rice importation and abandoned the urgent need to develop and strengthen the local rice production and improve the state of rice farmers in the country.
“Duterte admitted his failure in achieving rice self-sufficiency just like the previous administrations. Lumabas na sa bibig mismo ng Pangulo na wala sa adyenda ng gobyerno na tiyakin ang matatag na seguridad sa pagkain ng mamamayan at solusyunan ang kagutuman sa bansa,” he added.
Mariano also expressed dismay over the administration’s continued neglect on significant proposals that are supposed to achieve rice self-sufficiency and food security.
He is referring to the proposal for a two-year moratorium on acceptance of land use that is intended to protect lands devoted to agriculture and food production.
The proposal was raised by Mariano when he was still the secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform.
Another vital proposal is for the issuance of the Implementing Rules and Regulations for Republic Act 10969 or the Free Irrigation Services Act.
The National Irrigation Administration has not yet issued the said IRR for RA 10969 which is supposed to accelerate the country’s rice production.
The procurement of palay from local rice farmers is another measure that the administration of Duterte failed to pursue as the National Food Authority has not used its Fiscal Year 2018 Php7-billion budget intended for such procurement.
“Various government agencies are pushing for the approval of the proposed Rice Tariffication Act that would further open the domestic rice market to imported rice,” Mariano said.
He also hit the present administration for having no clear intention to implement a new and genuine agrarian reform program that will distribute land at no cost to landless peasants, give support to farmers, and will prioritize land-use for food production to achieve country’s food self-sufficiency and genuine food security.
“Duterte will remain accountable for the rising severe hunger of Filipinos and the backwardness of the local agriculture,” Mariano said. (davaotoday.com)