SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House committee on agriculture and food has approved the creation of a technical working group (TWG) that will finalize the bill seeking to create a Philippine Rubber Industry Development Board (PhilRubber) which shall be responsible mainly for the promotion, development and growth of the rubber industry by improving its quality and productivity, and expanding its markets.
The TWG creation was agreed upon during a recent hearing of the committee chaired by Rep. Jose T. Panganiban, Jr. (Party-list, ANAC IP). The TWG shall be headed by Rep. Isagani S. Amatong (3rd District, Zamboanga del Norte) who is also the author of the proposal embodied in House Bill 2912.
Panganiban said the proposed PhilRubber shall be an attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and would require an initial funding of P200 million. Panganiban stressed that the proposed PhilRubber should not duplicate the functions of the existing Philippine Rubber Research Institute created under Republic Act 10089 and the Philippine Rubber Industry Development Authority being proposed under House Bill 4064, which is now pending at the committee on government reorganization.
Amatong gave an assurance that the PhilRubber will not duplicate or be in conflict with the functions of other agencies. He said they studied well RA 1008 while in the course of drafting HB 2912.
Director Sitti Amina Jain of the DTI National Rubber Industry Cluster Coordinator (NRICC) explained the difference between RA 10089 and HB 2912.
“RA 10089 is centered on the upstream or concentrated mainly on rubber production while the PhilRubber under HB 2912 will serve as an umbrella organization that would protect and promote the rubber industry as a whole, from production down to manufacturing then to exporting,” said Jain.
Jain further said the PhilRubber would oversee the implementation of programs and projects to ensure the rubber industry would grow not just on the upstream (production) but as well as downstream which consists of rubber processing manufacturing and marketing.
Pursuant to RA 10089, an advisory board was created composed of representatives from the Department of Agriculture (DA), Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), Philippine Rubber Research Institute (PRRI), and a representative each from the sectors of rubber producers and processors. The advisory board is mandated to develop policies and programs aimed at improving the state of technologies needed for the rubber industry to meet global standards for competitiveness and product quality.
Meanwhile, Rep. Makmod D. Mending Jr. (Party-list-AMIN) said his House Bill 4064, now pending at the committee on government reorganization, seeks to create a Philippine Rubber Industry Development Authority to address all concerns of the rubber industry and make it more competitive in the world market. It will act as an executive office and will also regulate the industry because right now the price of rubber is being manipulated.
Under Amatong’s HB 2912, the PhilRibber shall be composed of the Secretaries of DTI, DA, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and Department of interior and Local Government (DILG); Director General of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA); President/CEO of the Land Bank of the Philippines; two representatives from the Academe; two representatives from the Philippine Rubber Industries Association., Inc.; two representatives from the National Lumber Processors; two representatives from the Small Holders Association; and two representatives from the Federation of Rubber Cooperatives.
The representatives from the Academe; Rubber Association, Rubber Processors, Small Holders Association and Federation of .Rubber Cooperatives shall be appointed by the President of the Philippines upon the recommendation of the DTI Secretary and shall serve in the PhilRubber for three years reckoned from the date of appointment The representatives may be reappointed by the President for another term.
The PhilRubber shall act as the top advisory body in all initiatives and concerns relevant to the rubber industry; promote investment in public and private lands, joint venture in rubber planting, processing, and manufacturing of rubber products and by-products; promote and coordinate within the national agencies on nationwide support programs such as research and development technology upgrading, human resource development, domestic and export market development, long-term financing, infrastructure, and land access; advocate for supportive policies including the provision of rubber industry development funds, long-term financing and investment incentives; promote a natural culture of quality from the farms to the factories of rubber products; serve as the point of contact between and among policy makers of the rubber industry; and represent the country in all international rubber conferences.
Amatong said the country is a known rubber producing country but has contributed only a dismal one percent of the world’s rubber supply. The absence of an industry-focused government support, compounded by the lack of testing facilities both in government and private sectors greatly contributed to its low quality, less productive and good access to the market.
Amatong said the demand for natural rubber in the world market is steadily progressing. In 2013 alone, the expected volume of the world’s demand for natural rubber reached up to 11.3 million metric tons. To date, the IMF has projected the demand to reach 11.9 million. By 2020, the IMF predicts the market to reach 15.4 million metric tons.
“Given the rich, fertile soil of our land, there is so much potential in our rubber industry which would eventually lead to our national economic development. In fact, according to the DA New Road Map as of 2011, only a total of 162,000 hectares of rubber were planted and is projected to reach 200,000 hectares by year 2016, or an average 10,000 hectares per annum,” Amatong said.
Amatong said the plight of the rubber industry could not be addressed fully considering that RA 10089 focuses mainly on research. “It is expected that with the passage of this Act, the whole value chain and challenges in the rubber industry will be sufficiently dealt with."
Amatong said market experts believe the demand from tire makers will boost global consumption of natural rubber accounting for 12.6 million metric tons in 2020. “The tire and construction industries, roads, bridges, buildings, sports race tracks, etc. get 70 percent of natural rubber consumption, while 30 percent goes to the non-tire industry,” he said.
With the objective of making rubber a sustainable socio-economic enterprise towards inclusive growth, Amatong said the bill shall strengthen all rubber players and stakeholders by enabling rubber, a viable resource commodity, generate employment in the countryside, and become globally competitive in the market. This will certainly raise the level of income of the many smallholders, he added. / ICY JR.