Sen. Cynthia Villar yesterday called for import limits and stricter sanitary and phytosanitary measures to effectively fight rice cartels.
Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, said importation of rice should be limited to just one million metric tons to cover the shortage on local production.
She said this volume is equivalent to about seven percent of the country’s needs and the rest will come from local production.
Villar’s proposal comes after the agriculture department scrapped plans to impose safeguard duties on imported rice.
Phytosanitary permits are issued by the Department of Agriculture to indicate that a consignment of plants, plant products or other regulated items meet specified phytosanitary import requirements.
Villar said most of the rice cartels that corner rice importations are based in Central Luzon adding they should be the one to blame for the low prices of palay.
Villar added local government units (LGUs) should do their part in helping the national government agencies crush rice cartels.
She said LGUs can use their own fund or take out loans from Land Bank of the Philippines to fund the purchase of rice grown in their own locality.
Villar’s appeal came seven months after the enactment of the Rice Tarrification Law which removed the limits in the quantity of imported rice.