Using a political economy perspective, this paper establishes the strong relationship between rice and politics and explains recent developments in the Philippine rice landscape. Results of the analysis show that the price of rice has been a significant determinant in election results since the 1950s, with the exception of 1998, where despite stable prices, the presidential candidate from the incumbent administration failed to win the elections. In addition, reliance by the Philippine government primarily on price instruments to achieve its rice objectives and to protect farmer and consumer interests has not resulted in any substantial improvements in rice production. In fact, the shift to rice protection since the 1980s has failed to stabilize domestic rice prices and has penalized the poor.
If the Philippines is to achieve sustained, stable rice supply at low prices and, at the same time, promote rice consumer and producer welfare, the adoption of a private-focused, market-based regulatory regime without a rice trading parastatal (but with rice emergency reserves, not for price stabilization) remains a long-term objective.