Butil Party asks senators to “permanently bury“ RCEP

January 22, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 168 views

BUTIL Party on Saturday asked the senators to “permanently bury” the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and thoroughly review all future trade liberalization proposals due to the grievous harm such trade pacts inflict on Philippine agriculture, with small farmers bearing the brunt of the whiplash.

“We should learn from history, in particular on how the accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995 brutally impacted on Philippine agriculture. The WTO caused the massive loss of agricultural jobs, the dumping of agricultural goods into the country, the erosion in the gross value added (GVA) of the sector,” former Butil Rep. Cecil Chavez said.

Chavez said the accession proponents promised that the accession would be the version of an agricultural renaissance , a “utopia of sort.” The reverse happened, Chavez said, and Philippine agriculture lost whatever residual strength it had pre-accession.

The Senate ratification of the RCEP would exacerbate the multiple woes of the agriculture and snuff out whatever small chances remain for its rebound and recovery.

Instead of joining more harm-causing free trade pacts, the senate should instead update the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act, then push for sustained and aggressive funding of the core AFMA programs.

Butil said the AFMA dream of building thriving agricultural and fishery zones in many areas of the country should be pursued with vigor and this is the only way we can compete in the global agricultural trade.

The Senate should return to the basics, which means transforming Philippine agriculture into a vibrant, competitive sector like what our ASEAN neighbors have done.

Chavez said that the Senate should temporality set aside acting on trade pact proposals until after the basic work of making the agriculture sector is over and done with.

“The rising food prices, short food supplies and gridlock food supply systems should also push the Congress to do the fundamental work of fully supporting the agriculture sector,” she said.

Chavez said the Butil Party “stands in solidarity with all the farm groups and peasant organizations opposing the RCEP ratification.”