ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Roque: Duterte ordered unlimited rice importation to bring down food prices
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the implementation of unlimited rice importation to address the unabated price increases in rice and basic commodities amid the nine-year high inflation rate of 6.7 percent, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Tuesday.
At a press briefing, Roque said such decision was reached during the Cabinet meeting on Monday night.
“The President approved the unimpeded importation of rice. Wala na pong restriction ngayon, basta magbayad lang ng taripa at gagamitin natin ang taripa na ito para sa ating mga farmers,” Roque told reporters.
Roque made the announcement four days after the government announced the 6.7 percent inflation rate in September which was due to price hikes in food, non-alcoholic beverages; housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels; and transportation costs.
“The President can just order the liberation of the importation. Walang time frame [on liberalization of rice imports]. Kasi ngayon [kailangan] meron pang order ang NFA Council kung ilan ang i-aangkat na bigas, wala na pong ganyan ngayon. Of course they still need to procure import permit, but no one will approve the [volume of] rice to be imported anymore,” Roque said.
“Unfortunately po, habang wala pa tayong sariling langis sa Pilipinas, wala pa tayong magagawa sa pagtaas ng presyo ng langis. Pero ngayon, inaasahan natin mataas man ang krudo, mapapababa natin ang presyo ng bigas na malapit sa sikmura ng bawat Pilipino,” he added.
Under the present setup, it is the National Food Authority (NFA) council composed of 11 government agencies which determines much volume of rice will be imported. Likewise, it is the NFA which gives accreditation to rice importers.
The President's order is actually provided for under the Rice Tariffication bill which is still pending in the Senate.
Roque, however, maintained that the government does not need for the passage of the said bill since the existing law only sets minimum access volume or minimum volume of rice imports of 805, 200 metric tons, not a maximum.
“We don't need to wait for that [bill]. Ang importante po, kung maraming maipasok na bigas ay babagsak ang presyo ng bigas. Ang importante din po magbayad sila ng taripa dahil gagamitin natin ang taripa para tulungan ang mga magsasakang Pilipino,” Roque said.
Albay Representative Joey Salceda, House economic affairs committee vice chairperson, earlier warned that at least 2.4 million Filipinos will sink in poverty if the inflation rate won't be addressed.
Letters that do not contain full contact information cannot be published.
Letters become the property of AseanAffairs and may be republished in any format.
They typically run 150 words or less and may be edited
submit your comment in the box below