Migrante International considers the signing of the rice tariffication bill by President Duterte as a death sentence to our local rice industry. From opening the country to the deluge of imported weevil-infested rice to bringing in more importations, this law is the final nail in the coffin that will spell a tragic ending to the livelihood of millions of rice farmers.
The Philippine government has been claiming that agricultural trade liberalization ensures food security for Filipinos. In reality, we can attest at how this country has deteriorated from being among Asia’s largest rice producers to being one of the world’s top rice importing countries.
No other than Agricultural Secretary Emmanuel Piñol himself admitted that the imposition of the rice tariffication law is the country’s fulfilment of its commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO). This law is set to worsen the record $41.44 Billion trade deficit caused by Duterte’s insane adherence to unfair trade practices and other neoliberal economic policies. His regime is rubbing more salt to our country’s economic wounds as this would escalate importations while local production further declines.
Many of our dear OFWs hail from peasant backgrounds in the countryside and they fully understand the repercussions that this law would entail to their families’ livelihood back home. As more farmers find rice cultivation unbearable due to the regime’s inclination towards importations, many will be forced to sell their lands to greedy developers and rice millers will find their storehouses empty.
Consequently, this will force farmers and their children to be among the many thousands of Filipinos who leave the country every single day to seek a better life overseas. No doubt, Duterte’s rice tariffication law is part of the prevailing course of forced migration to beef up the regime’s labour export program.
Let us bear in mind that the rice tariffication bill was signed just a week after President Duterte staged a drama for the sake of big landowners and property developers by walking out of a cabinet meeting after expressing frustration over the slowness of the country’s land conversion process. Duterte is very much eager to wipe out agricultural lands and turn them into commercial properties. This is the kind of regime that no monster could rival when it comes to viciousness and insatiable greed.
The only way to salvage Philippine agriculture and bring about economic security and progress to our farmers is to address the age-old problem of landlessness by adopting a genuine land reform program through free land distribution coupled with subsidies to the tillers. Without genuine land reform, there can be no way this country can industrialize.
We OFWs and our families will never allow the US-Duterte regime to continue tormenting us with US-WTO dictates. Together, we stand in solidarity with our farmers as we resist Duterte’s despotic reign.
- Joanna Concepcion, Chairperson, Migrante International,
USA contact number: 1 (909) 969 3313
- Arman Hernando, Chairperson, Migrante Philippines;
PH Contact nos. 0967-277-53-32