Women, rice watch groups gather 11,203 signatures vs. RA 11203 Rice Liberalization Law
Just a few days before the celebration of World Rural Women’s Day and World Food Day, women groups Amihan (National Federation of Peasant Women) and the Gabriela Women’s Party along with Bantay Bigas and Anakpawis Partylist held a press conference today calling RA 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Law as “pasakit sa kababaihan” driving women to launch the campaign dubbed as “11,203 Pirma Laban sa RA 11203”.
“Women are in the frontline of hunger. Thus, women, especially farmers, are direct victims of Rice Liberalization Law which resulted in the drop of palay farmgate price and the absence of affordable rice in the market,” Amihan national chairperson Zenaida Soriano said.
“Ang kalagayan na may batang napipilitang mag-absent sa eskwela dahil walang makaing kanin ang magpapatunay na hindi pa rin abot-kaya para sa maraming mamamayan ang umiiral na presyo ng bigas sa mga palengke sa ngayon. Ang hinahanap pa rin ng mga maralitang mamamayan ay ang Php27 kada kilong bigas,” Soriano added.
According to Amihan and Bantay Bigas, the cheapest retail rice prices ranges from Php33 to Php36 but the low cost rice is usually of low quality.
“Pansamantala lang ang pagbaba ng presyo ng bigas. Ang long-term na epekto nito sa mga mamimili ay pagtaas ng presyo ng bigas dahil sa limitadong suplay sa world market, kawalan ng kontrol ng gobyerno sa presyo ng bigas at monopolyong kontrol ng pribadong sektor sa suplay at presyo ng bigas sa mga pamilihan,” Bantay Bigas Spokesperson and Anakpawis Partylist Deputy Secretary General Cathy Estavillo said.
“The Duterte government’s measures to this “deadly” law is frustrating as it is both “usad-pagong” and palliative. “Expected” daw ang pagbaba ng presyo ng palay pero kung kailan sumadsad ang presyo saka lang umaksyon – ang aksyon pa puro pautang at pangako. Matatapos na lang ang anihan wala pang ginhawang nararamdaman ang mga magsasakang nadelubyo ng liberalisasyon,” Estavillo exclaimed.
The groups said that palay farmgate prices ranges from Php10 to Php15 per kilo – Nueva Ecija, Php 12 per kilo of fresh palay; Isabela Php10.50 per kilo (Tumauini) to Php14.30 (Ramon) per kilo of dry palay; Sta.Cruz, Zambales Php14 to Php15 per kilo of dry palay; Naujan, Oriental Mindoro Php15 per kilo of fresh long grain palay; Php15Panay Php10 to Php14 per kilo; Bukidnon Php 15 per kilo (dry); Zamboanga Sibugay Php11 to Php13 per kilo (fresh); South Cotabato Php12 toPhp14 per kilo.
Estavillo said that while they were disappointed with the deferral of the proposed increase in tariff, it was the most probable outcome as Duterte and his economic managers were the ones who actively pushed for the enactment of the law and it requires series of renegotiation with the country’s trade partners.
She added, “Hangga’t hindi inaaksyunan ng gobyerno at ng mga mambabatas ang panawagan ng mga magsasaka at iba’t ibang rice stakeholders na kagyat na isuspinde ang pagpapatupad ng batas, magpapatuloy kami sa aming petition signing, lobbying at mga protesta.”
The groups said that the petition will be submitted to the House of Representatives and Senate of the Philippines this November 4, 2019 upon the resumption of the regular session.
For her part, Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Arlene Brosas said that she, along with fellow Makabayan Coalition representatives will actively support the interests and welfare of various rice stakeholders which has been the reason why they have filed House Bill 476 which seeks to repeal RA 11203 and House Bill 477 or the Rice Industry Development Act which upholds that the country should ensure food security based on self-reliance and self-sufficiency and not on importation.
The groups will be holding series of protests as part of the October Peasant Month including a protest on October 15 to mark the World Rural Women’s Day and a simultaneous petition signing and protests nationwide on October 16 in time of the celebration of World Food Day or the “World Foodless Day”. ###
On the Petition to Repeal RA 11203 Rice Liberalization Law, please click the image.