MABALACAT CITY -- Farmers belonging to various organizations in Central Luzon want the Rice Liberalization Law repealed.
The National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan) and the rice watch group Bantay Bigas echoed the farmers' sentiments against the law in a press statement sent to SunStar Pampanga Wednesday, August 28.
"Malaki ang pinsala ng rice liberalization sa aming mga magsasaka. Yung pinakamagandang klase ng palay na dati nabibili ng P23 kada kilo binibili na lang ngayon ng P8 kada kilo. Mabuti pa nga ang darak, P16 kada kilo," said Ignacio Ortiz, Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson-Nueva Ecija (AMGL-NE) chairperson.
Amihan national chairperson Zenaida Soriano said the statement of Senator Cynthia Villar that palay prices dropping to as low as P7 per kilo is allegedly "exaggerated and false."
"Sa monitoring namin at ng Bantay Bigas, umabot sa P7 kada kilo sa Zaragoza at Licab, Nueva Ecija at San Jose, Tarlac; P7.50 kada kilo sa Nueva Vizcaya; P8 kada kilo sa Pagsanjan, Laguna, Candaba, Pampanga, at San Miguel, Bulacan; P10-12 sa Naic, Cavite, Cagayan, Capas, Tarlac, at sa mga bayan ng Arayat, Sta. Ana, Magalang, Mexico at San Luis sa Pampanga," she said.
Soriano urged the lawmakers to go out of their offices and interact with farmers to hear their stories and demands to ensure that they pass laws that will genuinely serve the interests of farmers.
Bantay Bigas, in its position paper, said that rice retail prices remained unaffordable for poor consumers with NFA rice almost unavailable to markets.
With these, consumers are forced to buy more expensive commercial rice priced at P36 to P50 per kilo.
Amihan and Bantay Bigas said the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) is barely enough to support the needs of rice farmers.
A mere 10 percent or P1 billion will be directly accessed by farmers in the form of credit, they added.