Related News

Solon vows anti-corruption measures once NFA allowed to sell rice anew

03 May 2024

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker has allayed fears that the National Food Authority (NFA) will be riddled with corruption once it is allowed to sell rice again, saying that amendments to the rice tariffication law would include safeguards.

Nueva Ecija 1st District Rep. Mikaela Suansing said in a briefing at the Batasang Pambansa complex on Thursday that there will be ways to task NFA with selling cheaper rice while monitoring its activities.

Suansing was asked about Senator Cynthia Villar’s insistence that the task of selling cheaper rice was removed from NFA because of issues surrounding the agency, hence the crafting of Republic Act No. 11203.

Villar was the principal author of R.A. No. 11203 which amended R.A. No. 8178 or the Agricultural Tariffication Act.

“As a principal author of this measure, I would personally assure Senator Cynthia Villar that I will make sure that the way that we craft the provision in terms of reinstating the mandate of NFA would be less prone to corruption, so that’s the assurance that we give on the part of the House,” Suansing said.

“We have so many great technical staff here and NFA resource persons are very much cooperative during our hearing, so we’ll make sure that the provisions are crafted the right way this time,” she added.

Isabela 6th District Rep. Faustino Dy V said that while Villar is correct in fearing corruption, the amendments being pushed by the House can be a chance to introduce “regulatory tools” that would keep NFA free from anomalous activities.

“For me, Senator Cynthia is correct that we had incidents of corruption before with the NFA and […] those were the problems, but now that we are crafting a new law, or amendments to the RTL law, now we can introduce the needed regulatory tools, or the needed amendments to improve the system,” Dy said.

“So that’s what we are studying in the House.  But it doesn’t mean that we should not entertain the idea of introducing the NFA function again because it is needed so the people have access to cheaper rice,” he added.

Amending Republic Act No. 11203 or the rice tariffication law was identified by Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and other leading House lawmakers as a way to bring down prices of rice by P10 to P15 per kilogram.

Specifically, the amendments would allow NFA to sell cheap rice again, which solons hope would increase competition and therefore bring down cheap variants to around P35 to P40.

“So our target is by June, we should bring the price of rice down by at least P10 or up to P15, close to P30 per kilo, we will do this by having the NFA bring to the market affordable rice so that people can buy affordable rice,” Romualdez said in an ambush interview on Tuesday.

The House committee on agriculture and food started discussing the proposed amendments last Monday. Among the bills discussed were the following:

  • House Bill (HB) No. 212 seeking to amend R.A. No. 11203’s Section 13 (Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund or RCEF), to lift the quantitative import restriction on rice, authored by Rep. Suansing
  • HB No. 404, seeking to repeal the whole R.A. No. 11203, authored by Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas
  • HB No. 1562, seeking to authorize the Bureau of Customs’ excess tariff revenues from rice importation and other possible sources as a special emergency fund, and be used as financial aid for rice farmers, authored by Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. LRay Villafuerte Jr.
  • HB No. 9030, seeking to create a national rice emergency response, authored by Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo
  • HB No. 9547, seeking to extend the RCEF, authored by Nueva Ecija 3rd District Rep. Rosanna Vergara

Source : msn