(OCTOBER 21, 2019) – A group of farmers on Monday said it is mulling the filing charges against government officials for failing to impose additional tariffs on rice imports amid plummeting palay prices.
The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. cited a provision in the Rice Tariffication law or R.A. 8800 which states that government shall impose a “special safeguard duty on rice” to protect the industry from “sudden or extreme price fluctuations.”
PCAFI Corporate Secretary and Director Bong Inciong said the agencies can be held liable for not implementing the law.
“Deliberate ‘yung refusal nila to implement the law in favor of the farmers. Isn’t that a form of graft, a refusal to do your duty for the farmers? In effect you’re favoring the importers,” said Inciong.
During the India-Philippines trade consultation last Friday, acting Agriculture Secretary William Dar said Cabinet officials rejected the proposal to impose additional tariffs on rice imports as this may have possible “inflationary effects”.
Dar said the Cabinet did not fail to put up safeguards on the local rice industry and that the “best way to intervene” is by giving cash assistance.
“There’s no violation, I dont think. That’s their own thinking. Safeguard duty is one of the measures na on standby, ‘di nawawala. We are looking at a whole lot of other measures that can be put in place and all of these can help,” said Dar.
The Department of Agriculture has decided to distribute P5,000 in cash assistance to 600,000 rice farmers affected by the plummeting palay prices. The cash assistance will be sourced from the rice competitiveness enhancement fund. (Katrina Ventura/JMF)