Philippine agriculture

Farmers’ groups want TRO vs EO 62, reduction in rice tariffs

Iya Gozum

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Farmers’ groups want TRO vs EO 62, reduction in rice tariffs

TRO. Groups file a petition for certiorari and prohibition against Executive Order 62 before the Supreme Court on July 4, 2023.


Under Executive Order 62, the Philippine government cut rice tariffs from 35% to 15% in a bid to lower prices of the food staple, among others

MANILA, Philippines – Farmers’ groups filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition before the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday, July 4, against Executive Order 62 which modifies tariff rates on agricultural products including rice.

Petitioners asked the high court to declare EO 62 void and unconstitutional. Pending the decision, they want a temporary restraining order (TRO) on EO 62.

Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), Federation of Free Farmers, United Broiler Raisers Association, Sorosoro Ibaba Development Cooperative, and a representative from Magsasaka Partylist filed the petition.

“Malinaw ang tatahakin ng EO 62, uubusin nito ang buong agriculture sector,” said SINAG chairperson Rosendo So. (It’s clear that EO 62 will wipe out the whole agriculture sector).

“This is the reason why all the agri groups are joining forces, guided in the common objective of saving and defending the local agriculture sector,” So said.

EO 62, signed on June 20, cuts tariff rates on rice from 35% to 15%, and maintains decreased tariffs on corn, pork, among others. The Philippine government is maintaining this tariff calibration until 2028.

The farmers’ groups argued that reduced tariffs only penalize local producers, hurt consumers, and deprive government of revenues.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in June that reducing rice tariffs would lower prices, following another uptick in inflation in May.

Before that, Baliscan said in a Malacañang briefing that even with the reduction to 15% on rice tariffs, “the rice sector continues to enjoy comparatively high tariff protection from competitive imports” as the tariff is higher than majority of other tariff lines in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Lack of consultations

Petitioners pointed out that none of the mandated consultations on tariff changes were held.

Public hearings are required by the Flexible Clause of Customs Modernization and Tariff Act before the president can modify tariff rates, SINAG’s legal counsel Virgie Lasca Suarez said.

“The violation of the Flexible Clause in implementing Executive Order No. 62 renders it unconstitutional and invalid,” the petition read.

In a Senate hearing on Thursday, July 4, Senator Imee Marcos quizzed the Tariff Commission on the absence of consultations.

“Kailan kayo nagkaroon ng stakeholders’ consultative meeting tungkol sa 15% reduction ng rice tariffs? It’s not here. I can’t find it anywhere,” Marcos said.

(When did you have a stakeholders’ consultative meeting about the 15% reduction on rice tariffs? It’s not here. I can’t find it anywhere.)

The senator was holding the transcript of a public hearing on tariff calibration last March 20. There had been other hearings too on September 15 and October 23.

Tariff Commission chairperson Marilou Mendoza is one of the respondents in the petition, along with Balisacan, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon assured the lawmakers during the Senate hearing that there will be a review of the tariff reduction every four months.

Edillon said they would be consulting farmer groups in these reviews to balance the interests of consumers and producers.

For Senator Risa Hontiveros, however, the regular review is only reactive.

“If they’re saying that there will be a review every four months, that’s just mitigation for an executive order we’re questioning– its process and impact to farmers and the Rice Tariffication Law,” Hontiveros said in Filipino. –

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  1. ET

    President Marcos Jr. is willing to prioritize the Service and Industrial Sectors over the Agriculture Sector, despite the fact that the Agriculture Sector covers the countryside, while the Service and Industrial Sectors are dominant in the cities. The motivation behind this decision is to secure support from a significant number of urban voters in preparation for the 2025 and 2028 elections and beyond in order to perpetuate the Marcos-Romualdez Political Dynasty. The efforts of the petitioners against EO 62 are appreciated, as they are engaging in a long, challenging, and uncertain legal battle. Meanwhile, the President’s favored agricultural importers are reaping substantial profits.

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Iya Gozum

Iya Gozum covers the environment, agriculture, and science beats for Rappler.