May 24, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

House welcomes PBBM’s plan to certify Rice Tariffication Law amendments as urgent

THE House leadership on Monday welcomed President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr.’s intention to certify as urgent the proposed amendments to Republic Act (RA) No. 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), urging the Senate to heed the call and swiftly follow suit.

Deputy Speaker and Quezon 2nd District Rep. David “Jay-jay” Suarez said the move aims to lower rice prices, aligning with the directives set forth by Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez.

“This is in line with the directives of Speaker Martin Romualdez, our leader here in Congress, na i-amend ang RTL upang siguraduhin na mapababa po natin ang presyo ng bigas para sa mamamayang Pilipino,” Suarez said during the regular daily press conference at the House of Representatives.

Suarez stressed the urgent need to address the rising costs of goods, especially rice, which is a major challenge for Filipinos, particularly those from low-income backgrounds.

“Ramdam po natin na isa sa mga pangunahing hamon na hinaharap ng ating mga kababayan ay ‘yung patuloy na pagtaas ng presyo ng bilihin, and amending the [RTL] is one sure step that we can do to have more competitive prices for Filipinos,” he pointed out.

Suarez further elaborated on the ongoing efforts in the House, citing the hearings being conducted by the Committee on Agriculture and Food, chaired by Quezon 1st District Rep. Mark Enverga, on various bills aimed at amending the RTL.

Speaker Romualdez previously said that if the RTL is amended by June, rice prices could decrease by P10 to P15. 

He said that the House aims to lower rice prices to around P30 per kilogram by June to ensure affordable rice for impoverished Filipino families.

When asked about the Senate’s potential reaction, Suarez expressed optimism, pointing to the President’s certificate of urgency as a key factor.

“May sarili din namang patakaran ang mga senador at ang Senate sa mga processes nila pagdating sa legislation but given that this has already been certified as urgent by the

Palace, I’m sure the Senate will take cue and take action on that,” Suarez said.

“So antayin na lang po natin kung ano po ang magiging tugon ng Senado. But I’m very positive that the Senate will take action given the urgency of the matter,” he added. 

President Marcos stated that amendments to the RTL could allow the government to influence rice prices, particularly by regulating the buying of palay and selling rice to the public.

The RTL, designed to lower rice prices, permits unlimited imports of rice into the country. However, it restricts the National Food Authority (NFA) from purchasing and selling rice, limiting its role to managing buffer rice stocks.

House lawmakers seek to reinstate the NFA’s authority to intervene in the market to stabilize rice prices. 

They highlight that the RTL prevents the NFA from selling rice to the public, impacting access to affordable rice varieties.