The US-Duterte Regime Must Answer for the Rice Crisis and Soaring Prices of Goods

This article is available in Bisaya

Ka Maria Malaya
Spokesperson, NDFP-NEMR

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines–North Eastern Mindanao Region (NDFP-NEMR) along with all the revolutionary forces in the region strongly condemn and call on the people to make the US-Duterte regime answer for the deliberate manipulation of the economy that has resulted to severe rice crisis and price increases of goods in the country in order for the foreign monopoly capitalists, big bourgeois compradors and landlords to gain even greater profits.

The regime shamelessly blames farmers for the soaring price of rice supposedly caused by elevated selling prices imposed by farmers on traders.

In a study of the situation of rice farmers in NEMR, during harvest season traders buy 50 kilos of rice grains for P900.00 (P18.00 per kilo) from farmers. On the average, after milling, the 50 kilos rice grains yields 32-35 kilos of rice. Traders spend only P50 for drying, P75 for milling and P20 for transport totaling to P145 expenses for every sack of 50 kilos rice grains. The 35 kilos milled rice sells for P1,925.00 at P55.00 per kilo. Subtract from this the P 1,045.00 spent for buying and milling and the trader earns P880.00 for every 50 kilos of rice grains. If traders buy 100 sacks of rice, they will earn P 880,000.00 profit.

This means that the regime’s blaming of farmers for the increase of price of rice in the country is utter falsehood. Almost half of the selling price of rice is pocketed by traders as profit. In fact, farmers are victims of high usury rates, lack of government subsidy, costly farm inputs and low prices of their products. Because of this, farmers, especially rice farmers, are constantly in a shortfall.

Before the implementation of the Train Law, the price of rice in the market was at P40 a kilo with traders earning P380 for every 50 kilos of rice. The profit that traders are earning under Train Law increased by 56% or P500 compared to their earnings before the Train Law was implemented. In fact, despite the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Caraga’s statement that the region has enough supply, the price of rice is still high in the region.

The US-Duterte regime’s answer to the current rice crisis is importation which will supposedly decrease market prices. Just last October 8 Duterte ordered the implementation of a free market of rice in the country, immediately taking effect the day after. His order lifted the quota of imported rice, which means unlimited volume of rice that can be imported from other countries. Also last September, Duterte issued Administrative Order 13 allowing private capitalists to import rice and other agricultural products. All these were done under the assumption that prices will go down when rice floods the market. They did not consider the fact that traders are inherently greedy for profit and that they would collude with each other to maintain the imposition of high price of rice.

If ever prices subside because of the influx of imported rice in the Philippines, it (importation) will undermine the agricultural products of local farmers. Farmers will be forced to lower the prices of their products despite the ever increasing cost of farming (tools, farm inputs and others). In the long run local rice production will be defeated and farmers will turn to planting products for export such as oil palm, banana, pineapple and others. This will again result in the monopoly of rice trading and other agricultural products by foreign capitalists. In truth, this is but a fulfillment of the agreements imposed by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to open the Philippine market.

Meanwhile, the regime has no specific program that will solve the problems of farmers. If he will allocate the budget for rice importation to improving local rice production, the food crisis in the country will be solved.

No one else can be blamed for the rice crisis and the soaring prices of goods but the US-Duterte regime which continue to serve the interest of foreign monopoly capitalists, local big bourgeois compradors and landlords. It has further tied the country’s economy to import dependency and export of raw materials. It has fully implemented trade liberalization which only benefits big business and capitalist countries and will devastate the Philippine economy.

Not contented with just placing the Filipino people under severe difficulties, the regime has added the burden of Train Law to serve its Build, Build, Build projects to entice big foreign and local capitalists to invest in the country. The people are further saddled with relentless oil price increases brought about by the additional taxation of petroleum products. The average price increase of oil reached almost P12 a liter this year. In addition, the country is losing to foreign trade lowering the value of the peso against the dollar. In just seven months the value of the peso to a dollar decreased to P54, the lowest in almost 15 years. This has resulted to constant price increases of basic commodities and services in the country, such as education, health, irrigation and others.

Thus, the people must demand national sovereignty and an end to foreign domination. Land reform and national industrialization must be implemented to establish a self-sufficient national economy.

Amidst the severe rice and food crisis in the country today, the NDFP-NEMR calls on the people to plant food crops. In the countryside, where there are farm lots, the planting of food crops for consumption, such as rice, corn, sweet potato, vegetable and others through communal farming must be urged. In the cities where farming is difficult, people must plant in the yard using available materials that can hold soil (cellophane, sacks, cans and others) for planting. In little ways, these can help in solving the lack of food and rising price of rice.

The rice crisis, the continuing price increases of basic goods, and Duterte’s fascism and tyrannical rule are enough basis for him to answer to the people.

Struggle against the rising prices of basic goods. End all anti-people policies and pro-imperialist laws of the US-Duterte regime! Strengthen the peoples war! Down with the US-Duterte regime!

The US-Duterte Regime Must Answer for the Rice Crisis and Soaring Prices of Goods