Press Release
June 13, 2024

Opening Statement of Senator Cynthia A. Villar
Hearing on the Proposed Extension of and Amendments to the Rice Tariffication Law or Republic Act (RA) No. 11203
13 June 2024, Thursday, 1:00 P.M. Sen. Tolentino Room

Enacted in 2019 under Republic Act (RA) No. 11203, the RTL lifted quantitative restrictions on rice and introduced tariffs to protect local rice producers. The RTL ensures that farmers directly benefit from the liberalization of rice trading by providing at least P10 billion a year to the RCEF up to early 2025.

Under the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), tariffs collected from rice imports go to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF). Of the yearly P10-billion RCEF budget, P5 billion is allotted for the free distribution of farm machinery and equipment, P3 billion for free distribution of high quality inbred certified seeds, and P1 billion each for credit support and training of farmers and extension.

Collections in excess of the P10 billion funds go to the Rice Farmer Financial Assistance or RFFA under RA 11598. The law took effect on March 5, 2019. The RFFA is an unconditional financial assistance to farmers funded by excess tariff collection from rice importations in 2022 that total PhP12 billion. The 2023 RFFA beneficiaries include farmers that registered in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture as of June 30, 2023 and tilling two hectares of land and below.

In the Senate there are four bills filed on the topic:

1. SN. 642 by Senator Marcos amending Republic Act No. 8178 or the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996 and proposing the expansion of the functions of the national rice buffer to cover both natural catastrophes and commodity crisis, among others;

2. SN. 1203 by Senator Padilla expanding the purpose of the RCEF from P10Billion to P15Billion annually and earmarking 10% to scholarship, health and other similar benefits;

3. SN. 2601, which I filed extending the RCEF until 2031 or seven years, including the Financial Assistance to Rice Farmers, and allocating a portion of the fund for Small Water Impounding Projects, and Composting Facilities for Organic Fertilizer; and

4. SN. 2672 by Senator Padilla proposing the restoration of the price stabilization and supply regulation functions of the National Food Authority (NFA) and the creation of the Rice Industry Development Program Management Office.

And two resolutions: Senate Resolution 956, by Senator Risa Hontiveros, for a consultative and comprehensive review of the implementation of RTL; and Senate Resolution 503 by Senator Loren Legarda, to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the implementation of the RCEF.

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