Manila, Philippines – The Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, rice watch group Bantay Bigas, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Anakpawis Party-list and various organizations in Metro Manila held a protest in front of Department of Agriculture in Quezon City against the 2nd-year of Rice Liberalization Law, food price shocks and demanded support to “Food Security Frontliners”. The peasant sector screamed for P15,000 production subsidy and P10,000 as social amelioration but was constantly neglected by the Duterte regime. The “Kalampag Kontra Kagutuman” was joined by Gabriela, urban poor group Kadamay and others. 

“Nasaan ang ayuda? The peasant women and families have already endured three phases of socio-economic and climate crisis, particularly:  the detrimental impact of the RA 11203 Rice Liberalization Law; the destruction of livelihood brought about by the impact of the miitaristic policies under the guise of response to the COVID-19 pandemic; the exacerbation of the impact of successive typhoons last year due to anti-environment and anti-people government policies and at present, these high food prices,” exclaimed by Zenaida Soriano, Amihan National Chairperson. 

“We have been warning against the food crisis since the lockdown last year.  It has been obvious that the government has also subjected food producers with fascist measures that hampered the productivity and distribution of food in the country.  The rising costs in transportation, the unaddressed african swine fever epidemic, the liberalized “freedom” of the private sector of the dictate farm gate and wholesale prices, are the very root causes of the food price shocks and food crisis today,” she added. 

According to Cathy Estavillo, Bantay Bigas spokesperson and Amihan Secretary-General,  “The damage of the Rice Liberalization Law to our farmers’ livelihood, the local rice industry and the country’s food self-sufficiency and security has been very clear since its implementation two year ago. Farmers have already been suffering from bankruptcy and indebtedness for 2 to 3 harvest seasons due to the drop in palay farmgate price.  Prior the destructive impact of subsequent typhoons, farm gate prices were at P7 to P10 per kilo, until peasants were left with nothing as their crops were either flooded or felled. The law has also failed to lower the retail price of commercial rice while the cheaper NFA rice sold at P27 and P32 per kilo has long been absent in public markets.”

” Sa Isabela lang ay halos P10B ang nawalang kita sa nakaraang anihan. Walang silbi ang tulong ng DA na pautang na naman, mga binhi at pataba na iilang libo lang at 19% lang ang nabiyayaan sa magsasaka, manggagawang bukid at mangingisda. Higit P60,000 na ang gastos sa 1 ektarya. Sa P5 bagsak ng presyo ng palay, P25,000 agad ang nabawas sa kita ng mga magsasaka, ” Estavillo added. 

“The peasants and peasant women, scream for P15,000 production subsidy and P10,000 as social amelioration.  We do not need loans, as we are already engrossed in unrecoverable indebtedness.  With adequate support to the productive sector, we are demanding to pull down the prices of food, primarily rice at P25 per kilo.”

At present, Amihan and Bantay Bigas stated that the country needs a national and democratic program or framework for agriculture and food production. The groups pushed for the enactment of House Bills 239 Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill and 477 Rice Industry Development Act or RIDA bill, filed by Makabayan bloc lawmakers.  The bills seriously proposes solution to the chronic rice crisis that affects both producers and consumers,” Soriano ended.

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