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AN OPEN LETTER TO THE HONORABLE SENATORS OF THE

PHILIPPINE SENATE
(November 12, 2018)

On the occasion of the month of November being the RICE AWARENESS MONTH celebration,
may we respectfully bring to the foremost attention of the distinguished Senators our strong
collective opposition to Senate Bill 1998 on Rice Tariffication because of its ANTI-FARMER,
ANTI-EMPLOYEE and ANTI-PEOPLE provisions!!!

We have summarized below the salient points of our collective position for your perusal and
consideration:

Senate Bill 1998 Farmers/Small Grains Businessmen’s and


October 10, 2018 Transcript of Senate Session NFA Employees’ Position
-Page 56 - on their new definition of “Buffer -The new definition of buffer stock must also
Stock which refers to the optimal level of include the purpose/intention for the
rice inventory that shall be maintained at stabilization of rice supply and price and access
any given time to be used for emergency of the poor to cheap government rice.
situations and to sustain the disaster relief
programs of the government during natural Why wait for a disaster or calamity (natural
or man-made calamities.” or man-made) before the government will
intervene?

The State’s obligation to provide its people,


especially the poor sector, with cheap-priced
rice is paramount. Thus, the government thru
the NFA, must not entirely entrust this role to
the private sector. Otherwise, we will see
another rice crisis similar to the scenario we
witnessed in the past immediate months.
-Page 59 “Sec. 4. Repeal of Section 5 – -This provision clips the regulatory powers of
Section 5 of Republic Act No. 8178 is hereby the government thru the NFA on all rice
repealed. Hence, the NFA shall no longer imports. For a government and a country
establish rules and regulation governing the whose people’s staple is rice, control measures
importation of rice and issue import licenses and strong developmental regulations must still
or permits for the private sector. Likewise, be in placed. And this can only be done thru a
the power of the NFA to first certify the system where the volume and “food safetiness”
existence of a shortage before importation is of all rice imports entering the country are
allowed is hereby removed.” properly monitored, registered and the quality
thereof pass established quality standards and
protocols, among others.

If other minor agricultural and even-non


agricultural commodities are issued with
import permits, then the more it is imperative
for the government thru the NFA to require
import permits for the STAPLE FOOD for
reasons above-cited.
Moreover, unbridled or uncontrolled rice
importation will lead to smuggling and the
demise of the local rice industry.

Section 5 of RA 8178 should remain and


should not be repealed.
-Page 61 “Sec. 3. Removal of regulatory The Philippines is an agricultural country.
functions of the National Food Authority. In Therefore, the full liberalization of importation,
order to carry out the policy of the state of exportation and trading of the nation’s prime
complete liberalization of importation, agricultural product (rice) is counter
exportation and trading of rice, Section 6 productive. It will only benefit profit-oriented
(A) I, V, VI…” big businesses to the detriment of our own
small Filipino farmers who need most of
government support and assistance.

It will lead to perpetual import dependency and


will discourage the local production of rice,
hence, putting into peril the country’s capacity
to produce for its own food.
-Page 64 …Removal of “borrowing portion” - NFA will be decapitated of its financial
of the NFA’s corporate power. flexibility especially during times of
emergencies and calamities of national
significance.

Instead of removing NFAs flexibility to source


fund to finance its governmental and social
functions, the government should
automatically allocate sufficient budgetary
support in the annual General Appropriations
Act.
Senate Bill 1998 Farmers Position
October 10, 2018 Transcript of Senate Session
-Page 91 …There is hereby created a rice The proposed law should not limit its annual
competitiveness enhancement fund, herein allocation for the Rice Fund to only P10B a
referred to as the Rice Fund. The Rice year. The amount should be based on the actual
Fund shall consist of yearly appropriation of annual gross tariff collections from rice
Ten Billion Pesos (P10,000,000,000.00). imports.

Aside from the 100% rice tariff collections to


be plowed back to the farmers, a certain
amount should also be allocated in the GAA to
enable them to recover from the negative
shocks brought about by rice import
liberalization policy.
We believe that the rules and regulations governing rice importation, issuance of import licenses
or permits for the private sector and to first certify the existence of a shortage before importation
should continue and remain with the NFA.

Rice importation is only a band aid solution to rice shortage in the country. State intervention and
support is needed to avert the ever increasing dependency on imported rice. A state agency
exclusive for rice only, with modernized facilities is needed to procure food staple locally thru
forward farm gate price based on the cost of production so that fair return for the farmers are
realized. Funds for the purpose should be annually allocated thru the General Appropriations
Act. Subsidy on farm inputs and farm machineries must return and continued. Build, build,
build must also include initiatives in the rural areas such as the provision for irrigation, farm to
market roads, warehouses and processing centers. Capacity and capability building of farmers
cooperatives is necessary so that marketing channels will be reduced which will result to lower
price of milled rice at consumer level. And lastly, government’s rural finance which is currently
locked among Government Financial Institutions (GFIs) must be liberalized by expanding direct
credit thru non-GFI conduits like the Department of Agriculture and National Food Authority,
government agencies with direct link to rice farmers.

FILIPINO RICE FARMERS FIRST BEFORE FOREIGN FARMERS!!!


SUPPORT FOOD SECURITY THRU GENUINE RICE SELF-SUFFICIENCY!!!!
INCREASE THE BUDGET FOR PHILIPPINE RICE AGRICULTURE!!!!
RETAIN & STRENGTHEN THE NATIONAL FOOD AUTHORITY!!!!

EDWIN Y. PARALUMAN SILVESTRE B. BONTO


Chairman, Philippine Farmers Advisory President, National Confederation of
Board Irrigators Association

WILLIAM U. SARATAO CAYETANO FLORES


Chairman, Regional Farmers Action Sec. General, Alyansa ng Industriyang
Council, Region – XII Bigas

ENGR. CHARLES G. ALINGOD SANTIAGO Y. DASMARIÑAS, JR.


National President, NFAEA National President, NAFEDA

HERCULANO G. CO LUCILA L. DAMASCO


President, Philcongrains National Vice-President, GRECON

REFERENCES: Silvestre Bonto (0916-2474252), Edwin Paraluman eparaluman@gmail.com (0917-


6571508), William Saratao wilsarmark2@gmail.com (0915-8391447), Cayetano Flores (0917-5150665)
NO TO SENATE BILL 1998 PROPOSAL

ANTI-FARMER BY FARMERS

1.Its tariff/rice fund provisions will not 1.100% of tariff be plowed back to over and
directly benefit the farmers. above the annual budget from GAA.

2. Unbriddled, uncontrolled and 2. Retain government’s (NFA) regulation


unchecked importation will lead to function on rice importation.
smuggling of rice and the demise of
the local rice
industry. 3.Retain/strengthen NFA’s food security
and stabilization functions.
3.Abolition of NFA.

ANTI-CONSUMER/ANTI-PEOPLE BY CONSUMERS

- Elimination of low priced government - Continue with state (NFA) market


rice from retail outlets in the market. intervention on the price and supply of rice
by maintaining in the market its low-priced
. but good quality NFA rice being distributed
thru accredited retailers all over the country.
ANTI-EMPLOYEE BY EMPLOYEES

-Removal of regulation and stabilization -Strengthen NFA.


functions of NFA will lead to mass lay-
off of employees.