Marking the third anniversary of the enactment of RA 11203 Rice Liberalization Law, farmers and consumers from Metro Manila, Pampanga and Cavite led by Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women and rice watch group Bantay Bigas, held a “Puso para sa mga Magsasaka” a Valentine’s day protest in front of the Department of Agriculture central office in Quezon City today. The groups held large Valentine’s cards to call on candidates this 2022 elections to junk or repeal RA 11203 and enact the Rice Industry Development Act (RIDA).

“Araw ng mga Puso ngayon pero durog na durog na ang puso ng mga magsasaka sa tindi ng pagkalugi at pagkabaon sa utang mula nang pirmahan ni Duterte ang RA 11203 tatlong taon na ang nakakaraan. Bagsak ang presyo ng palay na umabot sa P10 kada kilo at malayo sa panawagang gawing higit P20 kada kilo. Nagtataasan ang gastos sa pagsasaka at bumabaha ng imported na bigas.”

“Sa kabila nito, nananatiling mataas ang presyo ng bigas, lalo pa ngayong pandemya kung saan marami ang nawalan ng kabuhayan dahil sa kapabayaan ng rehimeng Duterte,” Amihan secretary general and Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said.

“We challenge candidates to heed the demands of our food producers and consumers to ensure that food security and rice agenda are part of their platforms. The past three years of rice liberalization have only brought bankruptcy, suffering and distress to our rice farmers. Kaya naghahanap talaga ang mga magsasaka ng mga kandidatong may puso at handang magsulong ng interes ng mga magsasaka at maralita,” Estavillo added.

“The increase in palay production as well as the distribution of seeds, fertilizers and cash assistance will remain insignificant as long as depressed palay farm gate prices and lack of government support in farm inputs and post-harvest facilities persists and local markets are flooded with imported rice,” Estavillo said.

Anakpawis Partylist third nominee Doy Mariazeta expressed his support for the groups’ advocacies saying that the enactment of RIDA is necessary in the attainment of food security, self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

Among the salient points of RIDA include provision of support services for farmers, strengthening of the functions of the National Food Authority and preservation of agricultural lands used for food production.

“We will actively monitor the impact of rice liberalization especially now that we are approaching the harvest season. We will hold dialogues with local and national candidates and consult rice stakeholders to push for the repeal of RA 11203 and address the concerns of food producers and consumers,” Estavillo ended.

Amihan, Bantay Bigas and Anakpawis Partylist led a petition signing to repeal RA 11203 and enact RIDA where more than 80,000 signatures from various provinces across the country were submitted in the House and Senate Committees in Food and Agriculture. ###

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