“Farmers must be represented in panel tasked to implement rice projects” – Gov. Imee Marcos

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Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos questioned the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Rice Import Liberalization Law because of the exclusion of farmers from the Program Steering Committee (PSC) tasked to implement projects funded by the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

“The IRR cannot subvert the spirit and mandate of the law to make farmers part of the Program Steering Committee. Itinatag ang RCEF upang tulungan ang mga magsasaka. Kaya dapat lamang na may tinig at representasyon sila sa Program Steering Committee ng RCEF para masigurado na ang mga RCEF- funded projects ay magbibigay ng kailangang tulong sa mga magsasaka,” Marcos said.

“It is extremely unfair and unwise to deny our farmers’ representation in the PSC when they are in the best position to provide information to ensure proper implementation of RCEF funded projects. The IRR should be amended immediately to give our farmers a voice in the PSC. After all, kabuhayan ng mga magsasaka ang nanganganib mawala kung hindi maayos ang pagpapatupad ng Rice Import Liberalization Law, ” Marcos added.

The Federation of Free Farmers, the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries and the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura have expressed strong disappointment over the IRR.

The IRR includes only the heads of government agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, National Food Authority, National Irrigation Administration and National Economic and Development Authority as members of the PSC.

The Rice Tariffication Law, which lifted restrictions on the entry of imported rice into the country, allots an initial budget of P10 billion for the RCEF.

The RCEF is where the tariff collected from all imported rice under the liberalized rice import regime would go.

The RCEF would be used to provide needed assistance to farmers so as to lower the cost of rice production and make the Philippines competitive with other rice-producing countries such as Vietnam and Thailand.

At present, the country’s rice production cost is at P12 a kilo while it is only P6 a kilo in other countries in the region.