Rice watch group kicks off petition signing vs. Duterte’s rice liberalization

Quezon City, Philippines – Bantay Bigas, Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women and Anakpawis Partylist kick off their petition signing against Duterte regime’s Republic Act No. 11203 Rice Liberalization Law and the incessant increases in retail prices of rice in the market, that synchronically affecting poor farmers and consumers in the country. It was dubbed as “PUMIRMA LABAN SA RA 11203 RICE LIBERALIZATION LAW” and their first leg was at the Mega Q-Mart in Quezon City.

The groups said that it is part of the nationwide “palengke hopping” that will be carried out by peasant groups in the provinces, as people’s campaign to scrap the rice liberalization policies and to push for the enactment of House Bill 447 Rice Industry Development Act (RIDA), filed by Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Arlene Brosas and lawmakers under the Makabayan Coalition at the House of Representatives.

“We are nearing the annual World Food Day on October 16, but Duterte’s liberalization policies are literally changing this to a ‘World Foodless Day’ for the poor farmers and consumers,” Cathy Estavillo, Bantay Bigas spokesperson, Amihan Secretary-General and former nominee of Anakpawis Party-list.

She added that the petition signing is a venue for the people to express their opposition to the rice liberalization policies of the government.

“We urge the people, sectoral groups and institutions, to sign and promote the petition against the Rice Liberalization Law. This should be our voice opposing Duterte’s neoliberal policy of turning us into beggars of imported rice and displacing the country’s rice farmers and farm workers,” she urged.

She was confident that the “suki” who are usually from poor sectors and small retailers in Mega Q-Mart will support the petition.

Bantay Bigas also shared that it is already busy holding forums and discussions to various schools and institutions about the detrimental impact of the RA 11203.

“Many schools were already reaching us, inquiring on how to help the farmers amid depressed farm gate prices as low as P7 per kilo. We then, enlighten them of the root causes of their plight, and that is rice liberalization atop chronic landlessness, poverty and hunger,” she bared.

She claimed that the Rice Liberalization Law is nothing but a dictate of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which was promoted by local lawmakers and the present regime. The alternative to the chronic rice crisis hounding the country, are essentially the realization of genuine agrarian reform in the country, and a national and democratic rice development program, similar to the HB 477 RIDA.

“RIDA upholds that national food security is based on self-sufficiency and self-reliance, not on importation. It recognizes that food security is a fundamental right of the Filipino people and the rice farmers is a vital producer sector who deserves the utmost support from the state,” she elaborated.

Estavillo asserted that the people should know by now that Duterte himself is the bringer of chronic crisis, poverty and hunger to the producer and consumer sector, and that pushing for the real solution could only be by the people’s advocacy, akin to the petition signing. ###

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