Duterte firm on rice importation suspension

A shipment of imported rice being unloaded.

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte remains firm on his order for the suspension of rice importations to help rice farmers struggling with low palay prices.

Prices of palay went down in recent months due to foreign competition following the implementation of the rice tariffication law.

The President gave his assurance to peasant leaders and government employees in the Soccsksargen region on Friday.

He said would leave it to Agriculture Secretary William Dar “to make the projections (and) timeline of when to import and when not to import” adding “when it is nearing harvest time, on that period, importation will stop.”

The President also said: “I will buy what you worked hard for. I told Secretary [Dar] that if we lose [because] the price [of palay] from the people is high, buy it still. If we lose, then we lose.”

President also explained importations are also necessary sometimes as “a margin of (safety of rice inventory)” in timing the suspension and resumption of rice purchases from abroad.

“If people see there [is enough inventory of] rice, they would be confident they will not go hungry,” he said.

The Rice Tarrification Law or Republic Act No. 11203 was signed by President Duterte in February last year, afterwhich, the President promised to suspend rice importations during the harvest season and buy palay even at prices that would result in losses for the government.

However, days after giving the statement on rice importation suspension in November 19 last year, the President reneged on his promise and instead called for ramping up palay purchases and giving cash subsidies to small farmers.

The President allegedly backtracked on his promise following a lengthy meeting with Dar, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, his economic manager, and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea. (JGo/Currentph.com)

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