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Duterte orders suspension of rice importation to help local farmers

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the suspension of rice importation amid farmers' woes resulting from the Rice Tariffication Law, GMA News' 24-Oras Weekend reported Sunday.

In an exclusive interview with GMA News last Friday, Duterte said the government must now begin purchasing local rice to help the local farmers who have emerged the biggest losers, as affordable imported rice floods the market.

Last February, Duterte signed the Rice Tariffication Law that removed quantitative restrictions on rice importation, which stabilized rice supply and drove down prices.

But local farmers have been badly hit by the effects of the law's implementation, which resulted in the huge drop in the farm-gate prices of palay (non-milled rice). 

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) as of October 25 showed that palay prices fell to their lowest in eight years.

According to the PSA, the farm-gate price of rice fell to P15.35 per kilo, which is 27% lower compared to the prices in the same period last year.

Senator Francis Pangilinan, chairman of the Senate Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws, said all solutions to aid farmers affected by the implementation of the law must be fast-tracked.

Also, he said the farmers should be given cash compensation for their losses amounting to almost P60 billion.

Recently, the Philippines has surpassed China as the biggest rice importer in the world after it imported 3 million metric tons of rice in 2019. —Julia Mari Ornedo/LBG, GMA News