The sister of President Bongbong Marcos is confident he will not back the plan of his economic managers to cut tariffs on rice during the Congressional break.
Senator Imee Marcos made the guarantee as she joined a protest rally at the Department of Finance building in Manila held by farmers’ groups seeking the ouster of Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno and National Economic and Development Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.
“Nagdala lang ng support dito dahil alam ko at panatag ang aking kalooban, kumpyansa ako na hindi papayag si Presidente. Sigurado ako diyan dahil lagot tayo sa tatay ko,” said Imee.
Imee revealed that her father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos, had a distinct approach to his technocratic advisors. He generally heeded their counsel on various matters but maintained a different stance when it came to rice, a politically sensitive commodity.
“Sa aking ama, halos sinasabi niya na huwag na raw makinig sa ‘mumbo jumbo’ ng mga ekonomista ‘pagkat ang totoo, iba ang bigas,” she said.
Imee is worried that Diokno and Balisacan would press the President on removing tariffs on rice during the month-long recess of Congress starting Thursday, September 28.
“Ang nakakatakot lamang, alam natin na ang katapusan ng Kongreso ay bukas. Kapag natapos ang Kongreso at nagsara ‘yung Senado, ang nakakatakot diyan ay palulusutin ‘yung reduction o ‘di kaya zero tariff na importasyon sa kasagsagan ng anihan,” Imee said.
“Sobra naman sila. Nag-aani na ang lahat. Magsisimula na ang halos lahat ng bukid at ang kasagsagan niyan ay sa katapusan, ngayon itong linggo na ito hanggang buong Oktubre. Bakit naman sila mag-i-import ngayon? Pambihira naman,” she added.
Under the Rice Tariffication Law authored by Senator Cynthia Villar, the President may increase or reduce tariff rates when Congress is not in session.The same law also empowers the President to allow the importation of rice at lower tariffs or a limited quantity and period during a shortage.
Diokno, with the backing of Balisacan, had previously proposed to slash rce tariffs from 35 percent to between zero and 10 percent for at least six months to arrest the surge in rice prices.
The President had previously issued Executive Order No. 39 imposing price control on rice at P41 per kilo for regular milled rice and P45 per kilo for well-milled rice.