DA, Marcos Jr accountable for abandonment amid El Niño, import liberalization – updates from the peasant movement of the Philippines

Farmers and consumers demand anew the junking of the Rice Liberalization Law, import Liberalization, and seeks compensation to affected rural-based sectors whose livelihood were damaged by El Niño and drought.

Various organizations including Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Pamalakaya,  Bantay Bigas, Youth Network on El Niño and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today led a protest in front of the Department of Agriculture central office in Quezon City to demand accountability from the DA.  

The DA is brandishing that government aid has eased El Niño effects on agri-fishery outputs, however, KMP said that statistics are not reflective of the whole situation. The actual trickling down of aid remains sluggish and very little compared to the expansive effects of El Nino on the agricultural sector. Many farmers and fishers are still demanding actual aid, and the next planting seasons would be more difficult for them because of the accumulating losses and debts.

Based on DA’s conservative monitoring, the country has so far sustained P5.9 billion worth of agricultural losses, with the rice sector the hardest hit with P3.14 billion in damages. The production loss in corn is worth P1.76 billion; high-value crops at P958.06 million; P33.83 million for fisheries, affecting 2,261 fishers; P7.93 million livestock and poultry; and cassava at P3.25 million. MIMAROPA has the highest repored damage with P1.71 billion; followed by Western Visayas at P1.5 billion; Cordillera Administrative Region at P768 million; and Cagayan Valley at PHP562 million.

KMP slammed the DA for claiming that the agriculture sector is faring better this time compared to periods in the past when we had El Niño. The damage is so extensive that rice inflation shot up to 24.4%, the highest in the past 15 years. The local rice production also contracted by 2 percent or 100,000 metric tons (MT). The DA even lowered its target production for rice to 20.4 million MT for 2024. Pinabilis pa nga ng DA at Malakanyang ang importasyon ng bigas, isda, asukal at iba pang produkto dahil sa epekto ng El Nino. Nasaan ang mabuting sinasabi ng DA dito?

Junk rice liberalization, genuine development of rice industry imperative

KMP said the amendments to RA 11203 are not enough and it is high time for the genuine rehabilitation and development of the rice industry.

“Hindi sapat ang iniraratsadang RTL amendments ng Kongreso para solusyunan ang problema sa mataas ng presyo ng bigas. Populistang hakbang ng rehimeng Marcos Jr ang pag-amyenda sa RTL upang ipakitang tinutugunan nito ang usapin ng mataas na presyo ng bigas, kahit pa ilang ulit nang nalantad na palpak at bigo si Marcos Jr. sa pangako niyang mapababa ang presyo ng bigas.

Sa katunayan, ang RA 11203 o Rice Liberalization ang isa sa dahilan ng todong pagsirit ng presyo ng bigas, dahil binitawan ng gobyerno ang mandato nito sa regulasyon at pagbebenta ng bigas sa publiko, at buung-buong ipinaubaya sa pribadong sektor (at sa rice cartel) ang industriya ng bigas sa bansa.

For the country’s staple rice, the Marcos Jr administration and DA are guilty of destroying the livelihood of Filipino rice farmers by its continued implementation of the rice liberalization law and massive rice importation. KMP said these policies made rice inaccessible to poor consumers, undermining self-sufficiency and the national rice industry, and promoting the interests of monopoly traders and importers comprising the rice cartel.

“KMP said that no amount of amendments to the law could solve the rice crisis, and the people should broadly join the mounting movement to junk the anti-farmer and anti-people Rice Liberalization Law.”

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Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas or Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP) was founded at a time of great political upheaval and broad mass movement against the tyranny and abuses of the Marcos dictatorship. Hundreds of peasant leaders and land reform advocates from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao gathered during the historic founding of KMP on July 24, 1985. After thirty five years, KMP remains as the largest national democratic mass organization of peasants in the Philippines.

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