Senate urged to adopt House bill on RTL amendments before adjournment

By Zaldy De Layola

May 20, 2024, 7:51 pm

<p>File photo</p>

File photo

MANILA – Leaders of the House of Representatives on Monday called on their Senate counterparts to consider their version of the bill amending the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).

House Bill (HB) 10381 is set for approval on Tuesday, a measure that seeks to restore the price stabilization and supply regulation functions of the National Food Authority (NFA).

Deputy Speaker and Quezon 2nd District Rep. David Suarez said he is hoping the Senate can still pass its own version of RTL amendments before Congress’ sine die adjournment beginning May 25.

“Kung maipasa po natin ito at ma-isabatas at ma-implement sa mabilis na panahon, mapapababa kaagad natin ang presyo ng bigas by almost PHP15 (If we pass this [HB 10381] and enact into law and get implemented immediately, we can reduce the price of rice by almost PHP15),” Suarez said in a press conference.

“I think that, in itself, is an objective we should all be united for. So, I hope the Senate can act on that,” he added.

Suarez said some senators opposed the bill, citing corruption issue as it will restore the NFA’s power to sell and import rice.

He said the proposed amendments, particularly regarding the NFA, are not about corruption but rather ensuring food security and reducing rice prices.

House Assistant Majority Leaders Reps. Amparo Maria Zamora (Taguig, 2nd district) and Jay Khonghun (Zambales, 1st District) said HB 10381 seeks to help the government improve its ability to store rice and intervene in the market to keep rice prices affordable during emergencies and supply shortages.

Assistant Majority Leader and La Union 1st District Paolo Ortega said the Senate should consider the urgency of passing the measure.

“So, habang wala naman po silang sinasalang pa na (while they have not introduced) alternatives or amendments, we are still hopeful that they will act on this kasi nga po (because) it is already treated as an urgent measure or amendments, we are still hopeful that they will act on this thing,” Ortega said.

On May 14, the House approved on second reading HB 10381 which also mandates the maintenance of sufficient buffer stock requirements sourced from local farmers' organizations and cooperatives. (PNA)