We, the Rural Women Advocates (RUWA), continues to strongly denounce the enactment of RA 11203 Rice Liberalization Law. In the wake of its implementation, Filipino farmers have borne the brunt of its dangerous consequences which will only continue to worsen if not repealed in the soonest possible opportunity.

Within the year of its implementation, it has already marked its devastating effects on Filipino farmers. Due to the influx of imported coming from different neighboring countries, which is also mandated and directed by WTO, our local producers were forced to lower the prices of their rice. Even with NFA buying these locally grown rice at P19, prices can still go as low as P7. This diminishing price has led to serious dangers to the lives of our farmers.

Many of the farmer’s children in Nueva Ecija have dropped out of their schools because of the continuous strain in their livelihood. Between 2018 and 2019, enrollment rate in a school in Nueva Ecija has alarmingly decreased. Peasant women are also forced to look for other means to add to their household’s income by mostly becoming house help. These numbers may seem low for now but the fact still remains that the government has failed to safeguard and protect the interest of our farmers. Even with programs like Conditional Cash Transfer that aim to leverage the effects of RA 11203, the government’s action is bare minimum at most.

It is not only our farmers that has felt the effects of RA 11203 Rice Liberalization Law. In one of the provisions of the law, NFA lost its commercial functions and regulatory powers, and has only retained its emergency buffer-stocking mandate. As such, 1,792 NFA personnel are about to lose their jobs because of this restructuring as mandated by Governance Commission for Government Owned or Controlled Corporations (GCG).

A year of RA 11203 has only aggravated the plight of farmers and the rest of the Filipino people. It is evident that this has only benefitted the interests of the powerful and the capitalists and not the Filipino masses, as it was passed in the guise of.

In the coming anniversary of the passing of RA 11203 Rice Liberalization Law this February 14, we join Amihan – National Federation of Peasant Women, Bantay Bigas, and various sectors on their protest dubbed as “Rise for Rice! Junk Rice Liberalization!” to decry this inhumane and unjust policy that continues to cripple one of the most vulnerable sectors in our country, the farmers. We stand in solidarity with Filipino peasants in calling out the Philippine government to put an end to the misery and inhumanity that our farmers face due to this law. We demand that the government suspend this law for it is unconstitutional and a betrayal of its duty in ensuring that its people are protected and given equal opportunities. And finally, we demand that the government enact RIDA (Rice Industry Devt Act) or HB 477 as alternative solution to attain food security that is anchored on self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

Vitto Lardizabal
Rural Women Advocates (RUWA)

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