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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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No more NFA rice in local markets if tariffication pushes through – Sec. Piñol

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol

MANILA, Philippines – The lowest price of rice in local markets today can be bought at P27 to P32 pesos per kilogram, the cheapest price that the National Food Authority (NFA) can offer.

But according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, once the Rice Tariffication Bill is enacted into law, the NFA would have no choice but to buy rice from the local farmers instead of pushing for rice importation.

Piñol explains that the proposed legislature will remove NFA’s regulatory and importation functions and will only serve as keeper of the buffer stocks from domestic farmers for use in time of calamities and other emergencies.

This means that the low-priced NFA rice will no longer be available in the market.

‘One thing is certain. There will be no more P27 rice. Hindi rin sigurado kung magkakaroon pa ng continuous na pagbebenta ng NFA rice sa merkado because the role of the NFA now in the proposed act that will be signed by the President is that of a buffer stocking agency,” Piñol said.

The proposed act will also lift import restrictions on commercial rice and will only allow certain amount of tariff or duties.

Piñol noted that should the agency be allowed to supply rice in markets after the passage of the bill, they can only provide rice for P35 to P36 pesos per kilogram.

Piñol assures, however, that the current stock of NFA’s imported rice is still enough for the next three months.

The Agriculture Secretary added that the government has allocated P10-B peso annual budget intended for farmers’ subsidy to help them minimize production costs while they increase their yield.

The budget also covers free seed and use of agriculture equipment.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture (DA) assures to carry on with the implementation of suggested retail price (SRP) on rice under the Price Act to prevent price increase.

Piñol stressed, however, that the government might still incur income losses should it decide to pursue with the rice subsidy plan.

‘Kung P20.70 (per kilo) ang bili namin ng bigas (palay) hindi pwedeng ibenta namin ng P27. Kung ayaw nilang magpalugi. Pero the national government can still tell the NFA: “Ok. Magpalugi kayo. Bilhin ninyo ng P20.70 (per kilo) (at) ibenta ninyo ng P27 (pesos). I-subsidize namin ang remaining (cost).” That could still be possible,” the Secretary concluded.

Meanwhile, comsumer group ‘Laban Konsyumer’ president Atty. Vic Dimagiba believes that it is untimely to remove the NFA rice in local markets considering that 30% of the country’s population consumes the said low-priced staple apart from the possible rise in inflation.

He calls the proposed rice tariffication act is anti-poor therefore, the President should reconsider before signing it.

‘Di pa panahon . Lalong sisipa ang inflation sa pagkain . Yun 30 pct poor consumers na pumipila sa nfa rice na 27 at 32 a kilo naagrabyado na naman. We made that statement in a senate hearing. Anti poor yan desisyon. Dapat pigilan ng Pangulo,’ Dimagiba argued.

As of press time, the bill is just awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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Malacañang-PSC frustrates PITC at UNTV Cup

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

Malacañang-PSC Kamao flexed muscle as they overcome the power of the uprising rookie team PITC Global Traders. (Daniel Iglesias / Photoville International)

The Malacañang-PSC Kamao team is tightly clinging onto the second spot after narrowly pounding the PITC Global Traders, 69-64 at Thursday’s match.

Michael Ignario and ‘Bigman’ Martin Lloyd Antonio shared the Best Player of the Game title after firing 15 and 16 points, respectively.

The Kamao team now holds six wins and one loss under its belt while the global traders fell to the sixth rank after absorbing defeat for the fourth time.

Meanwhile,  the AFP Cavaliers are still the top team to beat as the end of the second round of eliminations of the UNTV Cup 7th edition draws closer.

The AFP maintained their lead after routing the DA Food Masters, 79-73, in a match held last Sunday.

Darwin Cordero was hailed as the Best Player of the Game after firing 24 points with three rebounds, two assists and one steal.

The Cavaliers now hold seven wins and one loss record while the Food Masters were pushed down to the bottom of the standings after absorbing six losses and winning only three of their games.

UNTV Cup Season 6 champion Senate Defenders, on the other hand, spoiled the hopes of the NHA Builders to take home the crown this season after their explosive match last Sunday.

The NHA lost to the Senate in overtime, 98-97, with Marlon Legaspi and Harly Ng scoring the game-winning shots after firing 22 and 24 points, respectively.

Legaspi and Ng were hailed as the Best Players of the Game. — Bernard Dadis | UNTV News & Rescue

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Senate likely to consider second extension of Martial Law

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Monday, December 10th, 2018

PASAY CITY, Philippines – Security officials met with members of the Senate on Monday (December 10) to defend their recommendation of extending the implementation of Martial Law in Mindanao for another year.

Present in the executive session were Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, and AFP Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he is likely to consider the recommendation due to threats of rebellion.

“In my opinion, there is a continuing rebellion. There is an actual rebellion on going,” said Sotto.

Meanwhile, Senator Ralph Rector is in favor of the extension, however, not for one year but for six months only.

“What is appealing is that they’re saying that they would be able to wipe out the Abu Sayyaf  if we give them a year of extension and to reduce the capability of CPP-NPA. That’s an appealing proposition to extend martial law. But then, why not 6 months?” Recto said.

According to Sotto, the Congress is likely to convene in a joint session on Wednesday to discuss the proposed one year extension of Martial Law.

It was in May 23, 2017 when the entire Mindanao region was placed under Martial Law following attacks from Maute terrorist group in Marawi City.

It was extended to a year until December 31, 2017 and another extension until the last day of this year. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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