MANILA - The Philippine Rice Research Institute on Monday denied it gives away its studies to private companies, after Sen. Cynthia Villar revealed this to be a circulating rumor.
Villar, wife of the country's second richest man, said big corporations do not need help from the government in terms of research. This should instead be given to the small farmers.
"Hindi ba kaya cinreate ang PhilRice ay para tulungan yung ating mga small farmer? Why will you help the private? Ang yayaman na nila, they can do it on their own," Villar, chair of the Senate agriculture committee, said during a hearing for the Department of Agriculture's 2019 budget.
Villar also said she was told by Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos that there was a farmer in the northern province who was awarded "outstanding farmer" after using seeds that the PhilRice rejected and threw away.
Agriculture Sec. Emmanuel Piñol said the agency, which is attached to his department, does not give away "reject" seeds.
Sailila Estilong Abdula, director of PhilRice, said their agency do not give away inventions or researches to the private sector because they are covered by "regulations."
"We will look into that kung meron, ma’am…Maraming attempt that we have developed technologies like hybrid, nag-a-apply sila for exclusiveness, pero hindi tayo pumapayag because we developed that using public funds," he said.
Villar then challenged PhilRice to disprove the rumors by teaching the results of its research to the poor farmers.
She said she will allocate a huge portion of the rice competitiveness enhancement fund to the agency so long as she would have the assurance that it would not go to the rich corporations.