Groups hit rice liberalization law anew

CLARK FREEPORT -- Two organizations have slammed anew the Republic Act (RA) 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Law which they claimed is throwing the population into aggravated food import dependence and away from attaining self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

The Bantay Bigas and National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan) stated that Philippines is reportedly importing rice more than China whose population is near 1.4 billion or thirteen times of the Philippine population.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed that the country is set to import three million metric tons this year, the biggest in the world and beating China’s 2.5 million metric tons, according to the groups.

“As we have decried repeatedly, RA 11203 will turn Filipinos into beggars of imported rice. We all have witnessed this law causing bankruptcy to rice farmers, and this will lead to displacement and ultimately declined productivity,” Amihan secretary-general and Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said.

“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 added.

She said this is a government failure to the “food on the table” agenda and falls on the mercy of foreign countries.

“We should not wait for the prices of rice to skyrocket to more than P50 per kilo, as by that time, poor sectors will already be facing hunger and household incomes further slashed. The end-game of this policy is it will be faced with social unrest by the combined mass movement of rice producers and consumers in the country,” she added.

She said peasants across the country has been organizing, mobilizing and holding mass actions on various issues, primarily on their rights to land, and economic interests such as against depressed farm gate prices of palay caused by RA 11203.

She called for further support to repeal the RA 11203 by signing the petition launched by the groups. They are set to submit the “Petisyon ng Mamamayan para Ibasura ang RA 11203 Rice Liberalization Law” to the House of 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,” she added.


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