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Bicam approves Rice Tariffication Bill

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

(file photo)

PASAY CITY, Philippines – The Bicameral Conference Committee has approved the rice tariffication bill on Thursday (November 22).

Under the proposal, import restrictions will be lifted on rice importation along with the creation of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (Rice Fund).

According to the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Senator Cynthia Villar, the proposed measure will benefit ordinary farmers.

This is through excesses in rice tariff revenues and from the P10-B fixed appropriation on the rice fund that will serve as direct financial assistance to rice farmers.

“If we are successful in the competitive enhancement, katulad ng seeds can increase their harvest from 4 metric tons per hectare to 6 that 50 % increased in productivity we’re rice sufficient,” Villar explained.

The bill is expected to be signed by President Rodrigo Duterte before the end of the year. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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Luzon farmers seek presidential veto of rice tariffication bill

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

 

Protesters in Mendiola

MANILA, Philippines — Representatives of farmers from different parts of Luzon gathered in Mendiola on Tuesday morning (December 4) to express their strong disapproval to the rice tariffication bill.

The group wrote an open letter to the president, expressing their sentiments about the bill and humbly requesting the president not to sign it.

They are anxious over the possible deficit that may result in the expected influx of cheap rice if the bill is passed, as traders would have no limits to importation.

“Ang kinababahala namin dito yung pag-open ng importation. Kasi sa ngayon marami ng lumalabas na bigas sa merkado na…hindi ito dumaan sa tamang proseso ng importation; puwede itong smuggled ito. Parang nile- legalize na sa tariffication bill na ito pati; smuggling kasama na rito,” said Silvestre Bonto, president of the National Confederation of Irrigators Association

Sharing the same apprehensions, Rustica Panganiban, president of the Provincial Farmers Action Council of Occidental Mindoro, fears that locally-produced rice will lose to imported stocks.

“Patuloy ang pagtaas ng mga gasoline, ganyan na rin po sa NFA (National Food Authority) o sa bigas dahil maraming imported rice na kung saan mababalewala na yung aming produkto dahil may imported rice na.” he said.

The farmers are also worried over the possible demise of the local industry of grain as palay farmers may no longer plant rice because of the proposed measure.

They added that unrestricted importation could lead to manipulation of prices and supply of grains in the country.

The farmer leaders are set to go to Malacañang on Wednesday (December 5) to appeal for President Rodrigo Duterte’s veto against the said bill.

“Magpaparating kami sa kaniya kung pwede namin siyang makausap nang harapan para maipaliwanag namin baka kasi hindi alam ni presidente na itong batas na ginawa na ito ay talagang makakaperwisyo at makapagpatay doon sa kabuhayan ng mga magsasakang Pilipino,” said Bonto.

Last Wednesday, the two chambers of the Congress ratified the rice tariffication bill and now awaiting the President’s signature.

The bill includes the allocation of the P10 billion fund for the machineries of the farmers.

But according to the group, they don’t need machineries as much as farm inputs and hybrid seeds.

Meanwhile, agriculture secretary Manny Piñol earlier said that the tariff from the imported rice will be used by the government to support Filipino farmers.

Even Senator Cynthia Villar, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture said earlier that the bill seeks to lower the price of rice in the market.

Villar explained that the farmers will not suffer from deficit because the National Food Authority is tasked to buy palay from the local farmers under the rice tariffication bill. — Catherine Maglalang | UNTV News & Rescue

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Gov’t grants farmers P10-B under the Rice Tarrification Bill

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Friday, November 30th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Farmers

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Wednesday (November 28) ratified the report of the bicameral conference committee on the rice tariffication bill.

The bill aims to lift quantitative restrictions on rice imports.

Instead, importers will be required to pay 35% levy or tariff on rice imports.

“Talagang we have to liberalize because it’s the provision of our agreement with the WTO so we have to tariffy to protect our farmers. Kasi kapag walang tariff, mas mura talaga ang import and the tariff proceeds will go to them for programs that make them competitive,” explained Senator Cynthia Villar, the Senate chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.

The measure aims to prevent another shortage of rice supply and to ensure that the low price of commercial rice is maintained in local markets.

Critics of the bill argue that with restrictions on rice importation being lifted under the bill, there will be an oversupply of imported rice in local markets and the ones to suffer the burden first would be the local farmers.

But Villar allayed the farmers’ fears on the matter, saying the government has allotted a P10 billion fund to help them.

“Magbibigay po ang gobyerno ng sampung bilyong piso every year sa susunod na anim na taon para kayo ay maging competitive against import,” Villar assured.

On November 22, the bicameral committee approved the allocation of P10 billion to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund or Rice Fund.

This will be utilized for the improvement of farm machinery and equipment, seed production, training for rice farming, and loan programs among other means to help the local farmers.

Several farmers expressed gratitude to the efforts of government to help them sustain their livelihood.

“Iyon po ang pinakagusto kong natalakay ni Ma’am Senator Cythia Villar na magkakaroon ng farm school dahil karamihan ng mga farmers ay wala pang sapat na edukasyon tungkol sa crop production, inter cropping, multicrop production,” said Association of San Felipe Farmers president Joely Reguidon.

“Malaking bagay, dahil nagbibigay sila ng mga traktora, hindi masyadong mahal ang upa, pero mas maganda kung gagabayan ng gobyerno yung upa ng traktora. Kasi sa amin wala na kaming kalabaw, hindi namin naaaffordan yung traktora,” added Rolan, also a member of the farmers’ group.

As of press time, the Rice Tariffication Bill is awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte before it fully becomes a law. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Leslie Huidem)

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Bicam tackles Lifetime Cellphone Number Bill

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

 

PASAY CITY, Philippines – The Congressional Bicameral Conference Committee has started deliberations on the proposed measure seeking to provide mobile phone users with a lifetime personal cellphone number.

Senate Bill 636 or the proposed Lifetime Cellphone Number Act will give phone users the option of keeping their existing mobile numbers even as they switch networks or mode of subscription services from prepaid to postpaid.

Authored by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, the bill will give mobile users the option to choose a cheaper and more efficient network service provider.

The measure will also prohibit telecommunications companies from option of exclusivity or locking mobile devices to their respective network.

Once approved at the bicam committee level, the Congress will ratify the bill for submission to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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