It is unfair to blame the high rice prices on palay (unhusked rice) prices and farmers. In fact, even if rice prices are high, farmers suffer heavy losses due to rising production costs, according to peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.
The buying price of palay reportedly went up to P27 to P32 per kilo in some areas, but KMP asserts that is not the average price nationwide. “Traders are buying palay for as low as P17 to P18 per kilo in some provinces. Kulang na lang hingin ng traders ang palay ng magsasaka.”
“Big traders and price manipulators within the rice industry are to blame for perenially unaffordable rice prices, and at the core of this neverending rice problem is the Rice Liberalization Law that the DA and Marcos Jr continue to support and espouse.”
“Isang malaking anomalya na nasa panahon tayo ng anihan pero nakapakataas pa rin ng presyo ng bigas at hindi pa rin makatarungan ang presyo ng palay. Kahit magkaroon ulit ng price ceiling kung ang may dikta at kontrol pa rin sa suplay, bilihan at presyo ng palay at bigas ay ang mga kartel, at walang kapangyarihan ang NFA at estado, aalagwa pa rin ang presyo ng bigas. Ganito ang nangyari sa EO 39 ng Malakanyang,” according to Danilo Ramos, chairperson of KMP.
“We are justified in opposing high rice prices that burden consumers and even farmers who cannot afford it anymore. The public must strongly oppose and protest against exorbitant rice and food prices. However, Marcos Jr’s price ceiling and other palliative measures do not explain why rice is expensive in the country, and more importantly, none of these address the most basic problems of rice farmers,” says Ramos.
KMP further said that the Marcos Jr government has done little to rein in large-scale rice smuggling, hoarding, and price manipulation. “The cartel continues to operate because the DA and the government allow them.”
The group asserts the immediate review and repeal of RA 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Law and demands significant agricultural subsidies for rice farmers. ###