Lawmakers seek comeback of half-cup rice bill, calls to reduce rice wastage

By: Jetaime Kaina Cerbito
November 14, 2023

One measure of reducing the nation's rice imports is by minimizing rice wastage. Photo Courtesy of Cebu Daily News

House Deputy Majority Leader Janette Garin on Monday declared the possibility of pushing through with a previously drafted half-cup rice bill that mandates the availability of serving half-cup portions of rice in food establishments to reduce food waste.

Senate Bill No. 1863, also known as “Rice Waste Reduction Act of 2023,” penalizes restaurants and other similar food establishments with P20,000 to P100,000 in fines for refusing a customer’s request to be served less than a cup of rice.

The proposed bill previously filed by President Marcos when he served as a senator in the 16th Congress, resurfaced recently as the country celebrates National Rice Awareness month this November. 

The drafted provision quoted a report from the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) indicating that P7.2 billion worth of rice is wasted nationwide and that 46 cities, including Quezon City, Manila, Davao, Cebu, Puerto Princesa, Baguio, and Iloilo, have already adopted the half-cup rice serving option.

“I hope my fellow lawmakers will back this legislation. Marami ang nasasayang na kanin na dapat mas marami ang pwedeng makinabang. Panahon na para maipatupad ito at mabawasan ang rice wastage,” Garin said in an interview.

Two more legislators have submitted proposals aiming to mandate restaurants to provide half-cup options for rice.

House Bill No. 9510, introduced by Quezon Representative Keith Micah Tan, aims to fine violators P5,000 for the first offense, P10,000 for the second offense, and P20,000 for the third offense on top of suspending license or permit to operate for 30 days for the third and subsequent offense.

House Bill No. 9511, filed by Representative Nicanor Briones (PL, Agap), aims to impose harsher penalties, with P20,000 being the first offense, P50,000 being the second, and P100,000 being the third, and to suspend the license or permit to operate for 30 days in the event of a third and subsequent offense.

“It is high time to implement this measure nationwide as it can play a pivotal role in addressing the country’s rice self-sufficiency goals,” Garin said.

Through its implementation, the legislation hopes to create a future in which people make smarter food choices, businesses prioritize serving responsible patrons, and society as a whole gains from a more sustainable and balanced approach to food consumption.