EMPLOYEES of the National Food Authority (NFA) 7 worry they might lose their jobs following the passage of the Rice Tariffication Law.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act 11203 on Friday, Feb. 15.
Duterte certified the rice tariffication bill as urgent in October 2018, in a bid “to address the urgent need to improve availability of rice in the country, to prevent artificial rice shortage, reduce the prices of rice in the market, and curtail the prevalence of corruption and cartel domination in the rice industry.”
But personnel of NFA 7 began to worry after they found out that some of them might lose their jobs once the law takes effect, as the Department of Agriculture (DA) 7 was deemed as the only agency to implement the law.
Lawyer Salvador Diputado, DA 7 director, told Superbalita Cebu that Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol met with all DA regional directors on Feb. 9 to discuss the Rice Tariffication Law.
With the NFA set to be marginalized, its main function will be to stock up on rice in case of emergencies and widespread calamity.
The law removes NFA’s commercial and regulatory functions.
NFA 7 Director Fernando Nuñez said that in anticipation of the law taking effect, they are awaiting the restructuring plan being prepared by the central office.
Some employees at the NFA 7 office in Cebu City showed their opposition to RA 11203 by wearing black shirts and conducting a nine-day silent protest.
Under the Rice Tariffication Law, quantitative restrictions on rice importation are lifted and private traders are allowed to import the commodity from countries of their choice.
The measure would also create the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund or a special rice buffer fund, with an initial P10-billion annual fund, to ensure rice production competitiveness.
The country’s economic team has been pushing for rice tariffication, saying this should bring down the prices of the country’s staple and weaken inflation. (HBL of SuperBalita Cebu, SunStar Philippines, JKV)