Monday Oct, 26 2020 12:45:25 AM

Catamco calls for Congress to review, amend RTL

AGRICULTURE • 22:30 PM Fri Oct 2, 2020
Edwin O. Fernandez
(L-R) Mlang Mayor Russel Abonado, Gov. Nancy Catamco and Mlang Vice Mayor Lito Pinol pose with protesting rice farmers.(Photo from LGU)

COTABATO CITY  – After listening to rice farmers’ dilemma, Cotabato provincial Gov. Nancy Catamco today called on Philippine Congress to review and amend the Rice Trariffication Law (RTL).

With that call, she has become the first local leader who called on Congress to amend the law which farmers clamed was disadvantageous to Filipino rice producers.

Cotabato province is one of the leading rice-producing provinces in Mindanao.

Listenign to farmers, Catamco saw the need to review, and amend the law to favor Filipino farmers instead of foreign rice producers.

Gualberto Sison of Mlang, North Cotabato, lamented how life has become so difficult for him and his family following the passger of RTL.

“Mas mahal pa ang face mask sa kilo ng palay sa (North) Cotabato (Prices of face masks is even higher as compared to palay prices in the province),” said Gualberto, who maintains two hectare of rice fields.

Private traders buy palay at P9.50 to about P11 per kilo, way below as compared to the National food Authority (NFA) procurement price.

NFA buys palay at P17 to P19 per kilo.

“We cannot sell our palay to NFA because we owed the inputs from rice traders, we have to sell it to whom we owe for the input and they dictate the price,” Solima Lim, a farmer Barangy Inas, Mlang, North Cotabato.

“Farmers’ life has been hard amid the pandemic,” she added, hoping procurement of palay will increase that will benefit both the farmers and the market.

Catamco, a former House representative, said farmers in Cotabato have been complaining of “very very low farm gate prices.”

She said the province's rice farmers desperately need support from the country's legislators to correct a flawed legislation which allows the unhampered entry of imported rice into the country and eventually flooded the local market.

"Hindi ko pabayaan ang mga farmers ng Cotabato and right now they are suffering from the adverse effects of unlimited importation of rice," Gov. Catamco said as she joined farmer leaders in a dialogue that followed a peaceful protest rally in Mlang.

She was joined by M'lang Mayor Russel Abonado, Vice Mayor Joselito Piñol, Board Member Maria Krista P. Solis, M'lang local officials and farmer leaders.

"We are not against the Rice Tariffication Program because as a former legislator I understand our commitments to the World Trade Organization," she said in a statement released by her office Friday.

However, Catamco added that in abiding by the country's WTO commitments, government must not jeopardize the welfare of the millions of Filipino rice farmers who depend on the industry.

"Hindi naman mahirap ang kahilingan ng ating mga magsasaka -let us review the RTL kasi while maganda ang intensyon ng batas, hindi naging mabuti ang resulta sa ating mga mamamayan," Catamco added.

With her call, Gov. Catamco becomes the first provincial executive of a major rice producing town to call for the review and amendment of the RTL passed by the Senate unanimously in 2019. (Edwin O. Fernandez)

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