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Press Release - Opening statement of senator cynthia a. villar

14 May 2024 (Tuesday) 10:00 A.M.
Sen. Pecson Room, 2/F Senate

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 2024.

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 until 2024.

In the Senate there are two bills filed on the topic, and one resolution. 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; 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 Senate Resolution 956, by Senator Risa Hontiveros, for a consultative and comprehensive review of the implementation of RTL.