Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” B. Casilao joined a protest against tariffication of rice imports Monday at the south gate of the Batasan Complex.

Casilao was with protesters from the Bantay Bigas rice watchdog and Amihan federation of peasant women who brought a mock-up gravestone, demonstrating tariffication as sealing the death of the Philippine rice industry.

“Then senator Macapagal-Arroyo pushed for the country’s entry to the World Trade Organization in 1995, and after decades, rice farmers’ livelihoold were ravaged by the influx of imported rice, but still, prices remain unaffordable to the poor, and now, the Duterte administration is doing a repeat, but worse, as it will unleash the flooding of imported rice in the local market,” Casilao said during the protest.

The protest was staged as House Bill No. 7735 or the replacing of quantitative restrictions on imported rice as protection to the local rice industry by tariffication nears approval on third reading at the House of Representatives.

Casilao slammed the argument that imported rice will dampen retail prices and asserted that monopoly traders will never ever give up potential profits, but, instead will totally control the distribution in the rice market.

“Neoliberal dogma of liberalization and deregulation will always favor the big, who actually controls the supply and distribution, thus, it is sugar-coating that prices will drop down due to tariffication,” he said.

Casilao added that tariffication is a subservient measure to the “free market” creed of the World Trade Organization (WTO) being championed by Arroyo and Duterte’s economic managers.

“The end mission of tariffication is zero-tariff entry or the ‘free flow’ of goods. We could simply look at it, similar to smuggling, where the state has put its hands off of the market, on the rice sector. It is death to Filipino farmers and the Duterte government is principally accountable for this certain man-made economic calamity,” the lawmaker said.

According to Ibon Foundation, prices have increased for six straight months in 2018 – by P2.53 from P37.83 to P40.36 for regular milled rice and by P1.61 from P42.58 to P44.19 for well milled rice. It added that the prevailing farmgate price of P21 does not provide sufficient income from the farmers’ average production cost of P12 per kilo.

When the 2008 rice crisis struck the country, the government was already importing an average of 1.8 million metric tons for three years. Amid mounting volumes of rice importation from 2008 up to 2010 reaching to 2.2 million metric tons, prices of rice increase in an annual average of P1.20 until 2016.

The lawmaker said the Duterte government is incapable of logic that it even cited tariffication in the 2019 budget message of the president to be railroaded.

“The people should comprehend that this liberalization, the intensified taxation on the people, are all part and parcel of neoliberal economics, all in the name of acquiring loans, and jacking up credit-ratings or capacity to pay, even to the cost of throwing poor sectors in the country into worsend misery and hunger,” he added.

Rising inflation triggered by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law, is predominantly composed of rising prices in oil products and food.

“The Duterte administration is operating on a daily basis on how to further burden the people, such as with these measures, it is imperative for the poor, especially the affected sectors to unite and mobilize, rise for the defense of the Philippine rice industry, and attain food security based on self-sufficiency,” Casilao said.

post to CNC – House
caption 1: Is rice tariffication dangerous?
caption 2: Rep. Casilao is angry of rice tariffication.

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