Cash assistance for farmers affected by rice tariffication urged

Marje Pelayo   •   November 18, 2019   •   135

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan expressed his sentiments for local farmers who are suffering from the influx of imported rice in the country as a result of the government’s implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law.

Pangilinan claimed that local farmers lose about P61.77B in a span of three months because rice prices continue to plummet due to the overflow of imported rice in markets.  

Thus, Pangilinan is calling for the immediate release of cash assistance to farmers so they could cope with their losses.

“Ang problema ng magsasaka ay problema ng pamilya (The local farmers’ problem is also the problem of families),” Pangilinan noted.

“Solusyunan natin itong paglubog ng kita ng magsasaka bilang isang pamilyang Pilipino (Let us find a solution to the farmers’ losses as one Filipino family),” he added.

The cash assistance, Pangilinan said, would not just help the farmers but the consumers as well as it would somehow ease rice prices in the market.

Pangilinan then called for a review of the Rice Tariffication Law and have it suspended.

Senate Committee on Finance Sonny Angara, meanwhile, assured that the law provides P10B-fund from importation taxes where cash assistance for farmers may be sourced out.

“Iyong rice tariff may pondo doon. Iyong makokolekta beyond P10-B ay ibibigay na as cash assistance sa mga magsasaka (The Rice Tariffication Law has funds. Collections beyond the P10B will be given as cash assistance for farmers),“ he said. MNP (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Pangilinan calls for release of P6B compensation for rice farmers this December

Robie de Guzman   •   December 12, 2019

(FILE) A Filipino farmer walking along the edge of a rice terrace at Batad village in the town of Banaue, Ifugao province, Philippines, 20 February 2017.  EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan on Wednesday called on the Departments of Finance and Agriculture to release the P6 billion cash compensation for rice farmers this December.

During the bicameral conference committee meeting, Pangilinan said the release of the compensation will be a gift for rice farmers who were affected by the influx of imported rice in the local market.

“They need this reparation now,” he said.

In November, Pangilinan filed Senate Bill 1191 seeking to augment the 2019 budget with P6 billion to provide cash transfer from unprogrammed funds to rice farmers.

The senator believes the cash transfer will give them a lifeline to continue farming following the effects of the implementation of the Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Act, which imposes a minimum 35-percent tariff on rice imports in lieu of quantitative restrictions (QRs).

Since the passage of the law, farmgate prices of palay have plunged to as low as P7 to P10 per kilo in some provinces, while the price of rice dropped by 2.9 percent, and the price of palay by 17.48 percent.

The drop in farmgate price of palay has resulted in huge income losses for rice farmers and the industry, now estimated around P60 billion, and projected to double by yearend.

The liberalization of rice imports, while intended to give the country a steady supply, has led to declining palay farmgate prices in many rice-producing areas, according to Pangilinan.

“Hindi kasalanan ng ating mga magpapalay ang nangyayaring pagguho ng kanilang kabuhayan. Kailangan isalba natin ang pagpapalay dito sa atin, dahil kung hindi, tayo ring lahat na kumakain ng bigas ang sa huli ay magdudusa at kakapusin sa bigas,” Pangilinan said

(The damage to their livelihood is not our farmers’ fault. We need to save our rice farmers because if not, all of us who consume rice will, in the end, suffer and face rice shortage.)

The lawmaker said releases from the proposed supplemental fund will be made by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) directly to the Department of Agriculture (DA), which shall make available the fund to the farmers.

The fund will be effective until December 31, 2020.

Farmers group fears losing over P140B to Rice Tariffication Law, plans protest

Marje Pelayo   •   November 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A group of farmers is planning a massive protest against the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law.

Federation of Free Farmers Chair Leonardo Montemayor said farmers might lose up to P140 billion or about P30,000 per hectare worth of income if the law’s implementation continues.

The group noted the significant drop in prices of palay from about P20/kg last year to only around P15/kg this year as a result of the unimpeded importation of rice in the country.

“This is more than 10 times the damage brought by Typhoon Yolanda to the agriculture sector in 2013, and it is all man-made,” Montemayor lamented.

Thus, the group is demanding compensation from the government to cope with the problem.

“We demand that all affected rice farmers be adequately compensated for their actual and projected losses,” Montemayor said.

He urged the government to triple the 35% tariff for rice imports in order to prevent an oversupply of imported rice in the market.

“We are feeling the painful effects na napakababa nung 35 (percent). Kulang po (that 35% is very low. It’s not enough),” Montemayor argued.

“Roughly in my calculation, it should be at least 100%, otherwise, malulunod tayo (sa bigas) (we’ll drown in rice),” he added.

The group is brewing a demonstration that can happen in the coming days as their way to air their grievances and in hopes that the government will reconsider reviewing the Rice Tariffication Law.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Finance (DOF), however, already expressed that they have no plans of amending the said law. – MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Pangilinan asks public to support Robredo as she takes on drug war challenge

Robie de Guzman   •   November 7, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan called on Filipinos to support Vice President Leni Robredo as she takes on the task of co-chairing the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD).

Pangilinan said Robredo is facing a dangerous challenge ahead and would need the public’s full support to succeed.

“Mapanganib ang kanyang hinaharap na pagsubok at naniniwala tayo na kapag buo ang suporta at pagkilos ng mamamayan sa magiging hakbang niya ay mas matitiyak ang kanyang tagumpay,” he said in a statement.

Robredo on Wednesday accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer for her to become co-chairperson of ICAD, in a bid to stop the killing of innocent lives under the administration’s war on drugs.

Pangilinan said the Liberal Party supported its chairperson’s decision although they are in doubt of Malacañang’s motive and sincerity about its offer.

“Bagamat hindi natin matiyak ang motibo at sinseridad ng Malacañang sa pag-alok sa nasabing pwesto, wala tayong duda sa sinseridad ng ating Bise Presidente sa kanyang layunin na hanapan ng tunay na solusyon ang problema sa iligal na droga sa bansa,” he said.

“Maliwanag ang naging pahayag ng ating Bise Pangulo na sa pagtanggap niya sa nasabing hamon ay tututulan nya ang araw-araw na patayan, papanagutin niya ang mga ninja cops, at hahabulin niya ang mga sindikato ng droga at mga kasabwat nito na nasa likod ng pagpapalusot ng tone-toneladang shabu sa BoC. Dahil dito, buo ang ating pagsuporta sa kanya,” he added.

He added that before Robredo’s announcement of her acceptance of the post, the party discussed and weighed its pros and cons.

“Pinag-usapan sa partido ang offer. Tinimbang ang mga pros at cons. At kahit alam ni VP Leni na maaaring patibong ito, tinanggap niya ang hamon. Mas matimbang sa kanya ang mga mahihirap nating kababayan na target ng madugong drug war,” he said.

Robredo’s camp initially expressed wariness on Duterte’s offer for her to co-lead the government’s war on drugs, even calling the appointment “meaningless,” and the post “problematic” and “non-existent.

But despite questions surrounding the offer, the vice president said she would accept the task and focus on what she can contribute to the anti-drug campaign.

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