“This I can assure you, I will create a happy compromise between the farmers and importation,” Duterte said at the inauguration of the Candon City Bypass Road in Ilocos Sur last Thursday.
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‘Happy compromise’ vowed on rice imports
(The Philippine Star) - July 27, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte is working on a “happy compromise” between rice importers and farmers to prevent the latter from getting displaced by a flood  of imports that could result from the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law.

“This I can assure you, I will create a happy compromise between the farmers and importation,” Duterte said at the inauguration of the Candon City Bypass Road in Ilocos Sur last Thursday.

Duterte has ordered the Department of Agriculture and concerned agencies not to allow rice importation
during harvest season. This way, Duterte said, local farmers would be able to sell their produce at higher prices.

“You can be sure that during your harvest no importation will be allowed. Ayaw ko. That’s what I said. Ubusin mo muna bilhin, kung mahal magpalugi na lang tayo kaysa magbili tayo (Let’s buy first, if it’s expensive we can lose money, rather than import),” he said.

The Rice Tariffication Law sets tariff rates at 35 percent if rice is imported from countries belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); 40 percent if the import is within minimum access volume (MAV) of 350,000 metric tons and from outside ASEAN, and 180 percent if import is above the MAV and from a non-ASEAN country.

“Ang tradeoff niyan, ang drawback is magsama ang loob ng mga farmers (farmers will feel bad),” Duterte said.

The Rice Tariffication Law removes the quantitative restrictions designed to protect local farmers from possible import oversupply.

“Hindi lang dito, both Visayas and Mindanao. So there has to be a compromise there that during the harvest season or the coming of the harvest season, your reserve will be used then you start to buy,” he said.

In his speech, Duterte also took a jab at outgoing Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol for bragging in his first months in office that he would bring the agriculture sector to rice sufficiency.

Duterte urged agricultural officials to be more understanding and sensitive to the needs of local farmers. “Pagka mahal, bilhin mo na (If it costs much just buy it),” he said, referring to local farmers’ produce.

He said discontented farmers might only get brainwashed by communist rebels and cause the government bigger headache.

Under the new law, the President can enforce safeguard measures when rice prices start to fluctuate in the market.  The measure also removed the commercial functions and regulatory powers of the National Food Authority but retains its powers to maintain buffer stocks. – With  Christina Mendez

ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS NATIONAL FOOD AUTHORITY RICE TARIFFICATION LAW
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