2022 Philippine senatorial race

To help farmers, Senate bets seek changes to rice tariffication law

Jairo Bolledo

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To help farmers, Senate bets seek changes to rice tariffication law

FARMING IN PH. A woman prepares rice seedlings for planting in Banay-banay, Davao Oriental, in March 2016.


Candidates who joined the Rundown 2022 senatorial forum also share their priority bills

MANILA, Philippines – To help farmers affected by the government’s rice tariffication law, some senatorial candidates said they will push for some changes in the said law. 

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte who is part of the Senate slate of dictator’s son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., said if he wins, he would push for an oversight for the said law. Gatchalian was one of the authors of the law. 

May pagbaba nga ng presyo ng bigas sa consumer pero ang ating mga farmers naman ay hindi kumikita (The price of rice for consumers is decreasing but our farmers are not earning from it),” Gatchalian said during the Rundown 2022 senatorial forum on Saturday, March 12. 

An oversight means the law would be reviewed or monitored by the legislative branch or certain lawmakers.

The rice tariffication law, passed under Duterte’s term, has become a controversial law because of its negative impact on farmers. Even Duterte’s former agriculture chief and now senatorial candidate Manny Piñol said the law would put the farmers at the mercy of agricultural imports. 

In September 2020, the Federation of Free Farmers and Action for Economic Reform revealed in a study that after the rice tariffication law was passed, there was a decline in the prices of palay

Senatorial candidate and lawyer Alex Lacson said the rice tariffication law should be reviewed to ensure that farmers are benefiting from it. Meanwhile, incumbent Senator Richard Gordon, as a suggestion to help the agricultural sector, said the government must provide more machinery and fertilizers to the farmers to lower their production cost.

Priority bills

All 19 bets who joined Saturday’s forum were asked what their priority bills would be should they be elected to the Senate. Antique Representative Loren Legarda, who initially accepted the invitation, withdrew her participation in the forum.

Below are the candidates present during the forum and what they said would be their priority legislations:

  • Ibrahim Albani – focusing on barangay development
  • Agnes Bailen – government reorganization
  • Carl Balita – omnibus positive practice environment act for healthcare workers
  • Roy Cabonegro – increasing the Climate Change Adaptation Fund and a 100% shift to non-nuclear renewable energy by 2040
  • John Castriciones – food sufficiency and strengthening the agricultural sector
  • Neri Colmenares – “Libreng Gamot at Libreng Pagamot”
  • David D’Angelo – declaration of a climate emergency
  • Chel Diokno – free legal assistance and food security law
  • Luke Espiritu – abolishing manpower agencies
  • Win Gatchalian – oversight of rice tariffication law, K to 12 program, and excellence in teacher education act
  • Richard “Dick” Gordon – social justice
  • Samira Gutoc – magna carta on crises
  • Risa Hontiveros – “Healthy Buhay at Hanapbuhay” and anti-hospital detention bill
  • Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog – raising minimum wage and ending contractualization
  • Alex Lacson – national dairy program
  • Sonny Matula – upholding labor rights and ending contractualization
  • Astra Pimentel – boosting the country’s tourism
  • Antonio Trillanes IV – COVID-19 recovery program
  • Carmen Zubiaga – establishing rehabilitation facilities in local government units

A total of 64 candidates are gunning for a Senate seat in the May 9 polls. Frontrunners like former House speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Raffy Tulfo did not attend Saturday’s forum. Among the candidates who entered the top 13 spots in Pulse Asia’s senatorial survey in January, only Hontiveros and Gatchalian attended. Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.