DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Peasant women group Amihan pointed to the Republic Act 11203 or Rice Liberalization Law as reason why the country reportedly surpassed China as the world’s biggest rice importer.
“As we have decried repeatedly, RA 11203 will turn Filipinos into beggars of imported rice,” Amihan secretary-general and Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said in a press statement.
The recent report of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed that the Philippines is now the top global rice importer, anticipating up to three million metric tons of rice import this year.
This beats China’s 2.5 million tons of imported rice this year.
The government allowed the flooding of rice imports in the country supposedly to curb the increasing prices of local rice in the market. But the effects of the said law has been taking its toll on local farmers.
“We all have witnessed this law causing bankruptcy to rice farmers, and this will lead to displacement and ultimately declined productivity. These are all contrary to national food security that is based on self-sufficiency and self-reliance. We raise the alarm against this trend and call for the urgent scrapping of the law,” Estavillo said.
The group said that an agricultural country like the Philippines emerging into the world’s biggest rice importer is sign of an “obvious failure” to the part of the government to ensure food security of its citizens.
“This is an epic failure of the Duterte government, when rice sources are supposed to be within the country, but his policies made this distant and even at the discretion of foreign traders colluding with local big traders, who will eventually dictate supply and prices in the domestic market. This dominance will hammer consumers, while displacing the rice-producing sectors in the country,” she added.
Peasant groups had launched a nationwide signature campaign in their petition against the RA 11203. The petition set to be submitted to the House of the Representatives.
“We reiterate, Rice Liberalization Law is anti-peasant and anti-Filipino. It is an economic and social crime against Filipinos as it threatens our inalienable right to food and food sovereignty. We urge various sectors to express opposition to RA 11203 and join actions to demand its repeal,” Estavillo said. (davaotoday.com)