A year after enactment of Rice Liberalization Law, farmers still landless

Farmers and multi-sectoral groups held a protest action in Mendiola on Valentine’s Day to demand for genuine agrarian reform, February 14, 2020.

On Valentine’s Day, multi-sectoral groups marched from Morayta to Mendiola, Manila to demand for a genuine agrarian land reform and condemn the landlessness under the tyrannical administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, February 14, 2020.

It’s been a year since Rice Liberalization Law or Republic Act 11203 was signed, allowing greater rice importation which resulted in the plummeting prices of local rice, farmers are still landless.

According to IBON Foundation, “The price of palay fell by 22.4% from Php20.14 per kilogram (/kg) in end-December 2018 to Php15.63/kg in the same period in 2019. Some major rice producing provinces such as Nueva Ecija, Isabela, and Laguna even reported palay prices as low as Php7/kg and Php10/kg.”

Filipino farmers continued to worry over plummeting prices of palay.

IBON estimated that a total income loss of Php84.8 billion was recorded in 2019 due to the “catastrophic drop in palay farmgate prices, which is equivalent to an average income loss of some Php35,328 per rice farmer.”

Instead of addressing hunger and poverty leading to deaths through prioritizing crop production and the overall development of the country’s agricultural sector, the Duterte administration is eager to ravage the country’s self-sufficiency and self-reliance for food to favor foreign agricultural exporters and his masters in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Unlike Duterte and his cohorts, the Filipino youth and people know that the only way to address food insecurity is by distributing the land to the tillers, as well as the development of the agricultural sector and national industries.

But since Duterte is hell-bent on killing the Filipino people, one way or another, the only option is to relentlessly fight his immensely anti-people regime. Duterte has done nothing to heed the legitimate and democratic demands of Filipinos, especially for the long clamor for a genuine agrarian land reform.

With the intensification of Duterte’s fascism, it is no wonder that more and more farmers across the country will collectively organize themselves to fight the oppressive feudal system in the country which has kept them on the brink of death for hundreds of years.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines challenges the Congress and the Duterte administration to decisively emancipate the Filipino farmers by passing House Bill 555 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill.

The Guild calls on all campus publications across the country to cover the plight of the basic sectors and to report the fascist attacks of the current administration. We also call on the youth to support the plight and struggle of farmers and to mobilize alongside them to uphold their democratic rights and demands.

The oldest, broadest, and only-existing intercollegiate alliance of student publications in the Asia-Pacific | Est. 1931 #DefendPressFreedom #EndStateFascism

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