Manila, Philippines – As the Philippines is reported to import rice more than China whose population is near 1.4 billion or thirteen times of the country’s, the Amihan or National Federation of Peasant Women and Bantay Bigas rice watchdog group slammed it as an exposé that Republic Act 11203 or Rice Liberalization Law is throwing the population into an aggravated food import-dependence and away from attaining self-sufficiency and self-reliance.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed that the country is set to import three million metric tons this year, the biggest in the world and beating China’s 2.5 million metric tons.

“As we have decried repeatedly, RA 11203 will turn Filipinos into beggars of imported rice.  We all have witnessed this law causing bankruptcy to rice farmers, and this will lead to displacement and ultimately declined productivity.  These are all contrary to national food security that is based on self-sufficiency and self-reliance.  We raise the alarm against this trend and call for the urgent scrapping of the law,” Amihan Secretary-General and Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said in a press statement.

She added that this is obviously a government failure to the “food on the table” agenda as it falls availability of food falls on the mercy of foreign countries and accessibility dictated by the private sector whose mission for existence is to profit.  

“This is an epic failure of the Duterte government, when rice sources are supposed to be within the country, but his policies made this distant and even at the discretion of foreign traders colluding with local big traders, who will eventually dictate supply and prices in the domestic market.  This dominance will hammer consumers, while displacing the rice-producing sectors in the country,” she added.

Moreover, she claimed that this is a serious concern and will throw vulnerable sectors into worsened state of poverty and hunger.

“We should not wait for the prices of rice to skyrocket to more than P50 per kilo, as by that time, poor sectors will already be facing hunger and household incomes further slashed. The end-game of this policy is it will  be faced with social unrest by the combined mass movement of rice producers and consumers in the country,” she projected.

She cited that peasants across the country has been organizing, mobilizing and holding mass actions on various issues, primarily on their rights to land, and economic interests such as against depressed farm gate prices of palay caused by RA 11203.

She called for further support to repeal the RA 11203 by signing the petition launched by the groups.  They are set to submit the ” Petisyon ng Mamamayan para Ibasura ang RA 11203 Rice Liberalization Law” to the House of Representatives.

“We reiterate, Rice Liberalization Law is anti-peasant and anti-Filipino. It is an economic and social crime against Filipinos as it threatens our inalienable right to food and food sovereignty.  We urge various sectors to express opposition to RA 11203 and join actions to demand its repeal,” she ended. ###

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