Pacman wants to junk rice tariffication law

Pacman wants to junk rice tariffication law

File photo of PROMDI presidential candidate Sen. Manny Pacquiao in a campaign sortie in Pasig City. (Photo supplied)

Text and photo by Tracy Cabrera
CAUAYAN, ISABELA — In dialogues with farmers in the agricultural province of Isabela, Probinsya Muna Development Initiative (PROMDI) presidential candidate Sen. Manny Pacquiao reiterated his vow to help farmers as well as fisher folk, saying government should protect the local agriculture sector from the influx of imported rice which has been bringing down the farm gate price of locally harvested palay.

Visiting Cauayan in his continuing campaign to win the presidency in the upcoming May 9 polls, the People’s Champ cited the suffering of Filipino farmers not only because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and severe economic downturn caused by rising prices of basic commodities and fuel but also from the impact of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).

Pacquiao opined that RTL should be junked as it only aggravates the hardship now being experienced by most farmers because the law opened the floodgates for cheap and imported rice as it removed the quantitative restriction (QR) for the importation of rice commodities.

The incumbent senator added that while the lifting of the QR is a government commitment as a signatory to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) of the World Trade Organization, he vowed to review the RTL (if not junk altogether) in order to infuse amendments that would shield farmers from the effects of unrestricted rice importation.

“Sinabi ko na ‘yan na pagdating ng panahon eh sisiguraduhin natin na hindi maagrabyado ang ating mga farmers at kung babaratin iyong mga palay nila, hindi tayo papayag at ang gobyerno ang bibili ng mga palay nila sa reasonable price,” Pacquiao echoed from an earlier statement he issued to farmers in a campaign sortie to Nueva Ecija about a month ago.

He noted that the decline in the country’s agricultural sector was caused by long years of government neglect and unrestrained entry of smuggled agricultural products.

“Alam mo sa totoo lang ang ating gobyerno pahina na nang pahina—kumbaga walang power ang ating gobyerno nakokontrol sila ng mga importation ng mga sindikato na ‘yan at kawawa ang mga farmers natin,” he said.

“(Dapat) maglaan ng pondo ang ating gobyerno para matulungan itong mga farmers natin at kung maaari ang gobyerno na bibili sa kanila ng mga palay. Pati mga fertilizer na ‘yan supplyan sila ng ating gobyerno,” he concluded. (ai/mtvn)

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