PBBM to certify as urgent Rice Tariffication Law revision

By Darryl John Esguerra

May 6, 2024, 1:30 pm Updated on May 6, 2024, 4:47 pm

<p>President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. <em>(PNA file photo)</em></p>

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (PNA file photo)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Monday said he would certify as urgent the bill proposing to amend the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), citing the need for the government to have control over or influence in the local rice market.

Marcos said amending the charter of the National Food Authority (NFA) and the RTL would give the government the needed leeway to act when retail prices of rice go up.

“Ang problema kasi kaya tumataas ang presyo ng bigas dahil ang mga trader ay nagko-compete. Pataasan sila ng presyuhan sa pag-bili ng palay at wala tayong control doon (The problem is that the price of rice is increasing because traders are competing. They will increase the price for buying rice and we have no control over that),” Marcos said in a media interview at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City, where he graced the Government-Owned or -Controlled Corporations’ Day.

“Kung magkaroon ng mga amendments sa NFA at sa Rice Tariffication, sa NFA charter at saka sa Rice Tariffication Law, magagawa natin, mako-control natin, mayroon tayong influence doon sa presyuhan sa pagbili ng palay at sa pagbenta ng bigas (If there are amendments to the NFA, and to the Rice Tariffication, to the NFA charter and then to the Rice Tariffication Law, we can do it, we can control it, we have an influence on the pricing of the purchase of rice and the sale of rice). So, that’s what we are going to do,” he added.

When asked if he would certify the proposed bill as urgent, the President said: “Yes, I think it justifies an urgent certification.”

Earlier, House of Representives Speaker Martin Romualdez said Congress is eyeing to amend the five-year-old RTL to allow the NFA to sell cheaper rice in public markets, targeting to reduce the retail price of the staple to PHP30 per kilo from the current range of PHP40 to PHP50.

Romualdez, in a statement Monday, strongly supported President Marcos’ decision, saying the legislative action underscores the government's commitment to reducing market prices and protecting farmers and consumers from unscrupulous traders and profiteers.

"The certification of this bill as urgent by President Marcos is a critical step forward in our concerted efforts to improve the livelihood of our local farmers and ensure food security for all Filipinos," he said.

"This amendment will allow us to address the challenges and limitations of the current law, ensuring that it serves the best interest of the agricultural sector and the consumers,” he added.

The proposed amendments to the Rice Tariffication Law aim to enhance the competitive edge of Filipino rice farmers by providing them with more robust support and protection.

The changes are also designed to stabilize rice prices by reducing the influence of unregulated rice importation and curbing the ability of middlemen to inflate prices excessively.
(with a report from Jose Cielito Reganit/PNA)