Rice imports undervalued? 'That's BOC's problem,' says Cynthia Villar

MANILA, Philippines – Even after government agencies flagged the undervaluation of imported rice, Senator Cynthia Villar said there is still no need to review the recently passed law that allowed uninhibited importation of the national food staple.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines' sustainable agriculture forum on Wednesday, July 24, Villar said the issue of undervalued rice imports is a matter of implementation.

"That's BOC's (Bureau of Customs) problem, not mine. That's smuggling. That's why one of the suggestions here is the institutionalization of the national single window system," she added.

"That national single window system will computerize BOC so lahat nasa computer, not at the discretion ng mga tao roon (so that everything will be stored in computers, not at the discretion of people there)."

Villar, who again heads the Senate committee on food and agriculture in the 18th Congress, authored the rice tariffication law or Republic Act No. 11203 during the 17th Congress.

"We haven’t implemented the law, [and now] we are reviewing the law? What kind of people [are we]?" she said.

Refiling other bills

Villar also said she will refile a number of agriculture-related bills. These include:

President Rodrigo Duterte had said he would want to have the coco levy fund bill passed into law in 2019, after previously vetoing it.

Villar also plans to push for the separation of the food and drug approving functions of the Food and Drug Administration to speed up its approval of patents.

She also said reforms must be passed to boost the Philippines' fiber industry. – Rappler.com