President Rodrigo Duterte said on Saturday night that he was not ready to get rid of the rice tariffication law since the Philippines “cannot be rice sufficient.”
Duterte remained firm despite farmers’ cries over falling prices of palay, which dropped to as low as P15.94, the lowest in the last eight years.
The President said the bigger problem is if the country would have a “food crisis” if there would no enough supply of rice.
“I am not about ready to do that; I do not want to have a food crisis again. There might be a problem, it is just a serious problem, but if there is no more food for the people, that is different,” Duterte said in an interview with ABS-CBN.
“You have a more serious challenge there, and maybe hard to resolve, until there is really food on the table,” the President added.
“Whether climate change, then you have the people growth, and the mismanaged problems in government, dealing with it is really solving the problem,” Duterte said.
The President said he would meet with the rice farmers to “resolve the problem” in dropping palay prices.
“I will see to it that we can strike a happy balance between rice importation and the production of rice by the farmers. But if you ask me if we can be rice sufficient, I don’t think so … Frankly, I cannot give that,” he said.
“I just want to correct it. Maybe along the way, I might be able to find out what’s the truth, and I will correct it,” Mr. Duterte said about the rice tariffication law.
The law allowed private traders or companies to import rice without being subject to regulation to stabilize prices, leading to uncontrolled increases in the price of rice.