House approves bill allowing farmers use of P6.97B rice subsidy fund

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MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has approved on Tuesday (12 November 2019) a resolution allowing local farmers to use the remaining P6.97 billion rice subsidy funds to buy palay (unhusked grain).

Lawmakers have stamped their approval on House Joint Resolution 22 authorizing the use of government funds from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to buy palay, which will then be distributed to beneficiaries.

It was learned that 206 of nearly 300 members of the House approved the resolution.

The national government can help local farmers, through this scheme, recover from the adverse effects of the Rice Tariff Law, which has reduced prices to a record low of P7 per kilo.

For each farmer, the P5,000 financial aid will accordingly come from billions in revenue from higher tariffs under the Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariff Law.

Meanwhile, a party-list group 1-Pacman Congressman Mikee Romero, said that apart from cash subsidies, rice farmers “will also be provided other forms of assistance such as free seeds and farm implements to reduce their production costs and increase their yield.”

He recalled that agricultural officials led by Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan told congressmen two months ago that a total of P5 billion had already been released from the RCEF by the Department of Budget and Management.

According to the officials, the P2 billion was given to the Philippine Rice Research Institute and another P2 billion to the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization for the production or procurement of seeds and farm machinery.

“The seeds and tools should be available by now, if not soon, so farmers could use them for the next planting season,” Romero said.

Romero said that the remaining P1 billion was released to government banks for lending to farmers “so they would not go to loan sharks for production money.” (Cate Pallarco/IAMIGO/CNS)

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