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Farmers group balk at Marcos Jr. promise of P20 per kilo rice

Members of the Pambansang Kilusan Ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (Pakisama) and Sumilao farmers on Friday thumbed down the proposal of presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to reduce rice prices to P20 to P30 if he gets elected in the May 9, 2022 elections.

In a press briefing at the Ateneo de Manila University, the farmers’ groups raised alarm about the future of the farming sector and the country’s food security if such a policy is implemented.

“Sa ngayon po ang presyo ng palay samin ay P12 at ang bigas ang pinakamababa ay P42. Ibig sabihin, pag ginawa nilang P20 baka ang bili na lang sa farm gate ay P6… mahal pa po yun sa sigarilyo kesa sa isang kilong bigas. Ganun ang epekto sa amin,” Rene Cerilla, Pakisama legal and policy advocacy officer, said.

(At this time, the price of palay is at P12 per kilo while milled rice is at P42 in the market. If they implement that P20, the farmgate prices may plunge to P6. That will make a stick of cigarette more expensive than a kilo of palay.)

Cerilla further lamented how farmers are often used during campaigns only to be abandoned after elections. He also feared the policy would result in more financial woes for farmers, adding they are already bearing the brunt of the rice tariffication law (RTL).

“Kung ngayon po, nalulugi kami dahil sa rice tariffication law lalo na po pag tumama ang pangulo na nangangako nito. Kasi po sa RTL lumaki na po ang lugi naming magsasaka at isang panganib nyan kung patuloy na malulugi ang mga magsasaka baka yung susunod na salinlahi ay di na magsaka at malaking banta po  ito sa food security sa bansa,” he said.

(We’re now losing so much because of the RTL. If it gets worse, we’re afraid our next generation will abandon farming and that will be a great threat to our food security.)

Earlier, Marcos Jr. said he would recommend a price cap on rice and mandate government agencies to serve as middlemen in the procurement of harvests under his administration.

It will lower rice prices to P20 to P30 — a slight difference from the existing costs of 38 to P50 per kilogram for the local commercial prices in Metro Manila and P37.00 to P52.00 for imported commercial rice.

Sumilao farmers at ADMU

Starting on March 28, the group of 10 Sumilao farmers and 10 more land tillers from Banasi, Camarines Sur marched from Bukidnon to Metro Manila to show support for the candidacies Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan.

It is the third time they marched towards the capital region — the first, was in 2007 with Robredo when they fought for their ancestral lands and the second was in 2016, to express support for Robredo’s vice-presidential candidacy.

“Kakampinks” welcomed them at the Ateneo de Manila University grounds Friday where they will stay until May 2.—LDF, GMA News