Sunday (Nov. 22) episode of Rights Corridor Dialogues livestreamed on Rights Corridor Facebook page, in partnership with OFW Watch Italy, discussed the effects of Rice Liberation Law (RA 11023) on the peasant situation in the Philippines.
Catarina Estavillo, Secretary General of the Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women and spokesperson of Bantay Bigas (Rice Watch Alliance), has been invited to enlighten webinar participants and RC Dialogues audience online on the impact of RA 11023 not only towards Filipino farmers but to the millions of rice consumers in the country.
Civil society organisations, including farmers, farm workers, rural youth, women, and the urban poor, have strongly opposed the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) or Republic Act (RA) 11203, which was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 19, 2019.
According to opposition groups, RA 11203, which they refer to as the Rice Liberalization Law (RLL) has replaced the quantitative restrictions on rice imports with a 35% tariff for ASEAN imports and a 50% tariff for non-ASEAN imports.
Activists claimed that in 2018, the government has created an “artificial shortage of rice supply” in the market, when the National Food Authority (NFA) announced that the agency’s buffer stock of government subsidised rice, or NFA rice, is only good for a few days.
The nationwide “rice shortage crisis” became the government’s basis for pushing for the enactment of RA 11203, to lower the price of commercial rice in the market.
State-employed economic managers and researchers were sure that with the new law, rice would become more affordable and would be advantageous to farmers for generating more yield at lesser production cost.
But one year since the new policy was enacted, observers and critics say that nothing much has changed in the Philippine rice industry since the enactment of the RLL, except that prices for both palay and rice went down and the country’s rice imports recorded its highest volume ever. Watch the full webinar here.