Itigil Ang Importasyon Ng Bigas! Bilhin Ang Palay ng mga Magsasaka!
- Position paper
- genuine AGRARIAN reform
- bilhin ang palay ng mga magsasaka
AGHAM, AMIHAN, Anakpawis, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Bayan Muna, Kadamay, KAIROS, KMP, KMU, Gabriela, IBON Foundation, MASIPAG, NFA-EAJ, COURAGE, PNFSP, Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Pamalakaya, SAMAKANA, SALINLAHI, QCPSTA-ACT
Bahay Kalinaw, March 2, 2018
Submitted to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food February 27, 2018
Public Hearing on National Food Authority importation policy and the Quantitative Restrictions on Rice Rice plays a crucial role in our society. It serves as the staple food for 85% of our population while millions depend on rice farming and trade as primary source of livelihood. However, the local rice industry remains in chronic crisis as rice farmers continue to suffer from landlessness, high cost of production, usury, low purchasing price of palay and lack of government support services and subsidy while consumers are consistently burdened by the skyrocketing prices of rice. The implementation of liberalization policies in agriculture and World Trade Organization-Agreement on Agriculture (WTO-AoA) imposed policies has only aggravated the state of the local rice industry. With this, we, the member organizations of Bantay Bigas, express our opposition on the proposed tariffication of rice imports. Replacing quantitative restrictions with rice tariffs will not address the problems confronting the local rice industry and the country’s food security. The country’s failure to attain rice self-sufficiency is rooted on the landlessness, high cost of production, and backward agricultural means of production exacerbated by the lack of government support and subsidy to rice farmers. Moreover, local rice production does not reach its maximum potential due to limited irrigation services and continuous land use conversion. Furthermore, the proposed tariff is not enough to protect the local rice industry considering the huge gap on the cost of production between local and imported rice. While the Philippine government is eliminating the agricultural subsidies and other protection on the local rice industry, other countries continue to protect and provide subsidies for their rice farmers making Filipino farmers unable to compete with cheaper imported rice. Thus, rice tariffication would result to the flooding of imported rice in the local market which will be catastrophic to the local rice industry and push our farmers into bankruptcy. The National Food Authority is mandated to procure 10 percent of the total local palay production. However, it only purchases 1 to3 percent, and worse, even lower such as in 2014, 2016 and 2017. Thus, the NFA is unable to fulfill its duty to stabilize the supply and prices of rice while the private traders can control the supply of rice and able to dictate the prices in the market. The country’s decades of experience on rice importation have shown that it does not result in the decrease of rice prices in the local market. Since the country’s membership in WTO and despite the increasing volume of rice imports, rice prices have consistently increased. Likewise, prices skyrocketed while NFA’s palay purchasing price remained at Php 17 per kilo for a decade. Thus, the aggressive liberalization of agriculture has only benefited large private traders at the expense of small rice farmers and the consumers. In this light, Bantay Bigas reiterates its position that tariffication is not the answer to the problems of the local rice industry but will only intensify the impoverished life of farmers and consumers.
1. Strengthen the NFA and uphold its mandate to ensure food security and stabilize supply and rice prices. Increase NFA’s local palay procurement.
2. Implement price control through the Department of Trade and Industry or an Executive Order.
3. Investigate, dismantle and hold the rice cartels accountable.
4. Provide support services and subsidies including seeds, irrigation, and appropriate post-harvest facilities.
5. Enact a genuine agrarian reform and rice industry development programs aimed towards the attainment of self-sufficiency and food security.
6. Stop rice importation and pull out from WTO-AoA. ###
Amihan submits our standpoint on the current rice “shortage” and the proposed rice tariffication that primarily affect millions of Filipino farmers and local rice industry, thus, undermines our food security.
On the current rice shortage, we condemn the National Food Authority (NFA) for repeatedly raising false alarm for a shortage of rice to justify more importation, when they should be procuring more palay from Filipino farmers. Though the Department of Agriculture and Office of the Presidential Assistant to Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, have minor differences on their opinions on the issue, they are united in allowing or promoting the entry of imported rice in the country under the framework of the World Trade Organization-Agreement on Agriculture (WTO-AoA).
Instead of relying from imported rice, we assert that the genuine approach to food security and self-sufficiency is Genuine Agrarian Reform and government support to agricultural production.
As prerequisite, farmers who are the primary forces of production in the countryside should attain security of tenure on the land, while technological and mechanization development are being established by the government.
The National Food Authority has significant potential to stabilize the food supply in the country, only that it is adopting neoliberal policies such as liberalization, leading to the privatization of the rice stock in the country, or significant share of the rice stock is under private control, thus, that’s the problem we face today.
As immediate solution, the following are our demands:
* Strengthen the NFA and uphold its mandate to ensure food security and stabilize supply and rice prices. Increase NFA’s local palay procurement.
* Implement price control through the Department of Trade and Industry or an Executive Order.
* Investigate, dismantle and hold the rice cartels accountable.
* Provide support services and subsidies including seeds, irrigation, and appropriate post-harvest facilities.
* Enact a genuine agrarian reform and rice industry development programs aimed towards the attainment of self-sufficiency and food security.
* Stop rice importation and pull out from WTO-AoA.
On the proposed Rice Tariffication, we express our opposition as it is akin to a “death warrant” or “death certificate” for the Philippine rice industry, as well as livelihood of rice farmers. Filipino rice farmers already suffered the impact of the influx of imported rice though with Quantitative Restriction since the country’s entry to the WTO, such as depressed farmgate prices leading to their bankruptcy and displacement from their lands, hence, it is imprudent to further this miserable experience via tariffication.
References: Zenaida Soriano, National Chairperson, Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women
Balay Kalinaw March 2, 2018
Mula pa nakaraang buwani, wala nang mabiling murang NFA rice o yaong mga may presyong P27 at P32 kada kilo sa mga palengke ang mga mahihirap. Kaya, sila ay napipilitan ngayong bumili ng commercial rice sa presyong P40 kada kilo pataas.
Naghumiyaw pa ang National Food Authority na wala na silang stock at tatagal na lamang ito ng 2 araw, na ang intensyon larnang ay para bigyan sila ng permiso ng NFA council na mag-import pa ng 250,000 metriko_toneladang bigas.
Mula nang pumasok ang Pilipinas sa World Trade Organization (WTO) at Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) nito, ang mga hakbang ng gubyerno at NFA ay pawang pagpapatupad ng liberalisasyon sa agrikultura, o kung saan ang mga pribadong sektor o mga negosyante ang nakikinabang o kumikita, dahil kakarampot lamang-ang binibili nitong lokal na palay na ani ng mga magaasakang Pilipino at panay na lamang ito angkat sa ibang bansa para sa kanyang stock.
Kaya, pawang pribadong sektor, mga haciendero at trader, ang kumokontrol sa suplay ng bigas at kaya nilang idikta ang presyo sa pamilihan, na lalo pang nagpapahirap sa mamamayan.
Walang nagbago sa ilalim ng gubyernong Duterte, nangako ito na hindi na mag-aangkat ng bigas pero itinuloy lang nito ang ginagawa ng mga nakaraang presidente, gaya ng importasyon at tumataas na presyo ng NFA rice. May inangkat na 805,000 metriko tonelada ang gubyerno parating ngayong buwan at sa Agosto, bukod pa sa inaprubahan ni Duterte na 250,000 MT, kaya siguradong babagsak ang presyo ng palay sa mga probinsya dahil lagi itong ginagamit na dahilan ng mga haciendero at trader para baratin ang presyo.
Marami na namang maluluging magsasaka at mababaon sa utang, at sa kinalaunan ay mawawalan ng lupang sinasaka. Dumagdag pa ang Department of Agriculture na akala nito ay nag-aalok ng solusyon sa pagbebenta ng commercial rice na P38 kada kilo. Sa hakbang na ito, itinutulak nitong tanggapin ng mga mahihirap ang mas mahal na presyo ng bigas, sa halip na itulak ang NFA na bumili ng lokal na palay at ibenta ito bilang murang bigas.
Dagdag pasanin ito sa mahihirap at mamamayan, gayung nararamdaman na ang epekto ng Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) na pamasko umano ni Duterte, at plano pa nitong payagan ang 00% foreign ownership of land, kapaloob sa charter change o cha-cha. Sa isyung ito, matagal nang sigaw ng mga magsasaka na itigil ng gubyerno ang liberalisasyon sa agrikultura, bagkus, suportahan sila at paunlarin ang agrikultura. Panawagan na nila noon pa na damihan ng NFA ang binibili nitong lokal na palay, itaas ang presyo at itigil ang importasyon. Upang ang nilalaang pondo sa ahensya, mula sa buwis ng mamamayan ay magsilbi sa bayan, at hindi dumiretso bilang kita ng dayuhang bansa at pribadong sektor.
Upang kamtin ang Food Security sa bansa, dapat ipatupad ang Tunay na Reporma sa Lupa, para proteksyunan ang mga magsasaka at mga produktibong palayan at sakahan, suportahan ang pagsasaka sa pamamagitan ng libreng irigasyon, makinarya, post-harvest facilities, puhunan at mataas na presyo ng palay.
Bumaklas sa WTO-AoA!
Itigil ang Liberalisasyon sa Agrikultura!
Tunay na Reporma sa Lupa at Pambansang Industriyalisasyon, Ipaglaban!
Singilin si Duterte sa pangakong ititigil ang importasyon sa bigas!
AMIHAN National Federation of Peasant Women
Balay Kalinaw March 2, 2018