Senator Cynthia Villar doesn’t have regrets backing the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), which Senator Raffy Tulfo claimed forced small farmers to sell their land as rice imports flooded the country.
The two senators had a heated debate during the plenary debates on the Department of Agriculture’s proposed 2023 budget, which Villar sponsored on the floor.
Tulfo said small farmers have been forced to give up their land after the passage of RTL as prices of rice went down. Villar, who authored the law, said the country will suffer if protectionist policies on the staple remained.
“If we don’t liberalize the importation of rice, they will bring down our credit rating and we have plenty of loans abroad and we have to pay higher interests for those loans so it will be a loss to the Philippine government,” she said. “I don’t feel any guilt to the small farmers.”
“All the money that came from the Rice Tariffication Law were given to the small farmers owning two hectares and below,” Villar added, referring to the P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund prescribed by the law.