Militants hold “Rise for Rice” rally to oppose Duterte’s destruction of national rice industry




Militant organizations Anakpawis Party-list from the National Capital Region, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog, Bantay Bigas rice watch group, Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas held a “Rise for Rice” protest in front of the Department of Agriculture (DA) central office and at Mendiola bridge, Manila to oppose President Rodrigo Duterte’s “destructive” policy in the rice industry.

The protest marked the first year of implementation of Republic Act 11203 Rice Liberalization which the group slammed as “destructive to the national rice industry, food security and self-sufficiency.”

“Duterte’s policy is destructive to the rice  industry and rice farmers are the first casualties who were slapped with around P75 billion losses due to depressed farm gate prices in 2019. The people must oppose this anti-peasant and anti-Filipino policy, for the sake of the next generation,” Ariel  Casilao, Anakpawis Party-list former representative,  said in a press statement, who also marched towards Mendiola bridge.

In the 17th congress, Casilao staunchly opposed RA 11203 when it was still being deliberated at the lower house, and asserted that it is detrimental to the peasants’ interests, and instead pushed his authored bill, the Rice Industry Development Act (RIDA).

The bill is proposing an authentic development program of the local rice industry. Its main proponent was the three-year allocation of P495 billion, which includes P185 billion for its core programs and P310 billion for the procurement program of the NFA.

It is House Bill 477 this present congress and primarily pushed by Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas.

“Liberalization is a historical scourge to Filipino peasants. Since the country’s entry to the World Trade Organization and influx of imported rice, farmers have been its usual victims. It undermined food security and worsened import-dependence,” Casilao said.

Casilao  said that import-dependence or the copposite of self-sufficiency worsened under Duterte and the law acts as its institutionalization. In 2017, import-dependence on rice was at 6.56 and it worsened in 2018 to 13.83.

The estimated 3 million metric tons of imported rice for 2019 could compose more than 20%  of the total supply.

“The Filipino people should unite to hold the regime accountable for destroying food security and consolidating a chain of exploitation and oppression by big traders and foreign monopoly. We call to junk Rice Liberalization Law and enact RIDA for national food security based on self-sufficiency and self-reliance,” he also said./Stacy Ang

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