MANILA (UPDATED) - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday ordered the National Food Authority (NFA) to buy palay, or unhusked rice, from local farmers to help them cope with the effects of the Rice Tariffication Law.
“What the solution should be, or will be for the secretary of the Department of Agriculture to buy all, magkano ba presyo nila? Magkano presyo nila, bilhin natin,” Duterte told reporters in a press conference in Malacañang.
“But you cannot demand a price, you arrive at a compromise of how much you are willing to lose a little bit. Tapatan lang, basta hindi malugi ang pagod nila, they are compensated but do not demand a price that is unreasonable,” he said.
Local farmers are blaming the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law for their woes, saying that the new measure allowed cheap imported rice to flood the market and caused the prices of palay to drop drastically.
Duterte, however, insisted that the new measure, which the government claimed has stabilized food prices and lowered inflation rates, is for the greater good.
“Now, itong tariffication is a mode that is intended to serve the greater interest of the majority of the people. So, ang solusyon diyan, bilhin natin. Malugi tayo, malugi tayo. Kaya tayo nagkokolekta ng taxes para malugi,” he said.
Duterte signed the law in February this year to address rice supply shortage and soaring inflation, using rice importation as a solution.
Under the law, the government is mandated to allot P10 billion to aid farmers, P5 billion of which should go to the mechanization of rice farming, P3 billion to the distribution of inbred rice seeds, P1 billion to credit for farmers and another P1 billion for their skills development.