MABALACAT CITY -- Prior to Christmas break, the Bantay Bigas and Amihan or National Federation of Peasant Women submitted their "Petisyon ng Mamamayan" that urges Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III and Senator Francis Pangilinan to act on the collective sentiment of more than 50,000 signatories against the Rice Liberalization Law.
"Our wish is for the senators to be moved and at most heed the demand of Filipino peasants and poor consumers to repeal the Rice Liberalization Law pushed by Senator Cynthia Villar until its enactment this February," Bantay Bigas spokesperson and Amihan Secretary-General Cathy Estavillo said.
Bantay Bigas, Amihan Peasant Women, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Gabriela, Kadamay, Kilusang Mayo Uno, National Food Authority Employees Association (NFAEA), and food security advocates waged their protested in 2018 when the NFA management cried of their man-made rice shortage that triggered price hikes affecting poor consumers.
The groups' main demand was for the NFA to increase its local procurement of palay at P20 per kilo and retail rice at P25 per kilo, as measures to stabilize prices and both benefiting the producers and consumers.
The group opposed the enactment of Republic Act 11203 in February and by October, it initiated its petition signing and after a month was able to garner more than 50,000 signatures.
"The senators should contemplate that many signed the petition in less than a month, which concretely means the broad opposition of the people against RA 11203. If they want to earn the approval of farmers and poor consumers across the country, they should repeal the law, otherwise, bear the mounting people's dissent," Estavillo said.
She said RA 11203 triggered farm gate prices as low as P7 per kilo this year, but the retail prices never dropped.
"The winners from this law are the private traders and importers, and the big losers are the farmers and consumers," Estavillo said.