THE Department of Agriculture (DA) indicated that Malacañang will be open to changes to the rice tariffication bill that will benefit rice farmers in the country, Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said.
“[President Rodrigo R. Duterte] is willing to listen. I would assume that he is willing to consider some changes,” Mr. Piñol told reporters on Friday.
“The instruction given to me and to other departments is to collate the position of the farmers,” Mr. Piñol added.
The rice tariffication bill which removes the quantitative restrictions (QR) on rice importation is expected to lapse into law by Feb. 17 unless vetoed by the President. Rice farmer groups have expressed opposition to the bill, claiming that cheap imported rice will dominate the market, leaving the National Food Authority (NFA) the main market for domestic rice.
According to Mr. Piñol, Mr. Duterte told farmer groups to submit a one-page memorandum the parts of the bill that they object to.
“In a one page memo, say what you do not like. I will listen),” Mr. Piñol quoted Mr. Duterte as saying.
However, Mr. Piñol said: “It will be the President’s call. I don’t want to second-guess what the President will do,” Mr. Piñol said.
“What the DA is doing is calling the farmers and asking them what they really want. They have to make their points, then we will just refine them and submit them to the Office of the President,” Mr. Piñol said. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio