Villar clarifies: ‘Work harder’ statement not aimed at frontliners
Aileen Cerrudo • August 2, 2020 • 147
Senator Cynthia Villar on Sunday clarified her earlier statement and said that it was government leaders and not medical frontliners who need to work harder against the spread of COVID-19.
Villar received backlash after commenting on the health professionals’ request to revert Metro Manila back to Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) due to the surge of COVID-19 cases. She said she was not in favor of placing Metro Manila under ECQ due to its economic impact and noted the importance of ‘working harder’ — seemingly referring to the health professionals.
In a statement, the Senator stressed that she was not referring to health professionals and other medical workers.
“We have to work harder and better, but I am not referring in particular to the medical workers–our frontliners. We are referring to all of us and DOH and Philhealth in particular. There is so much room for improvement in the government’s response to curb the transmission of the disease,” she said in a statement.
Villar said she is aware of the sacrifices of health frontliners. Meanwhile, she also urged the public to follow health protocols imposed by health experts.
“We all want to be safe and COVID-free. All of us are doing a difficult balancing act to keep people safe and alive. We all need to keep our jobs, the economy, to do our respective roles to sustain this. All of us have to work harder and better,” she said.
MANILA, Philippines – At least 4,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and their dependents attended the 9th OFW and Family Summit held on Tuesday at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.
The event, with the theme “Kabuhayan sa Sariling Bayan,” highlighted the concepts of financial literacy and entrepreneurship as well as business start-ups and trends.
The summit was spearheaded by the Villar Family through its foundation, the Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance (Villar SIPAG), in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and other government and non-government agencies.
“Masaya po kami dahil napakaraming kababayan na OFW ang nagpunta at nagpakita ng interes sa mga livelihood or business opportunities dito sa Pilipinas na maaari nilang paglagyan ng kinita nila abroad para magkaroon ng sariling kabuhayan dito sa atin,” Sen. Cynthia Villar said in a separate statement.
“Gusto talaga namin na maraming mahikayat na ang katuparan ng mga pangarap ay hindi lamang makukuha kapag tayo ay nag-abroad. Pwede din tayong magtagumpay sa sariling bayan natin,” she added.
Resource persons invited to the summit from various agencies discussed topics on financial literacy and provided guidance on how to seize opportunities and become entrepreneurs.
“Iyon ang intention namin na in the future na babalik sila sa Pilipinas, dapat y’ong mga pamilya nila, mayroon ng hanapbuhay na naghihintay sa kanila para pwede na silang mag-retire at mag-operate na lang dito sa Pilipinas.” Villar told reporters on the sidelines of the summit.
“Hindi nila kailangang magtayo ng restaurant kung ang galing mo care-giving; or ikaw ay graphic artist, pwede kang graphic designer at ‘yon ang iyong negosyo,” DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said.
Concerns of OFWs on where to find accredited recruitment agencies, what agencies to ask help from for problems abroad, and their rights as overseas workers were also tackled during the event.
Participants also enjoyed a raffle draw with prizes such as a house and lot, motorcycles, pangkabuhayan showcases, appliances, and other gadgets. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Cynthia Villar has urged new acting Agriculture Secretary William Dar to prioritize the return of the funds intended for the programs that will help increase farmers’ production under the Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tarrification Law.
Villar said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released P5 billion last year for the enactment of the law creating the P10 billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
Of the amount, only P1 billion went to RCEF’s program providing farmers access to cheap credit through Landbank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines, the senator said.
“Kahit sabihin pa nila na kaya ginastos iyon dahil hindi pa napapasa ang RCEF, dapat naghintay sila at hindi ginastos sa ibang bagay,” Villar said.
“I want DA to account for the remaining P4 billion and also to make sure that P4 billion will be immediately returned to RCEF,” she added.
Villar said the amount is needed to jumpstart the programs enumerated in the law, which was already delayed by the late approval of the 2019 General Appropriations Act.
RA 11203, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 14, 2019, replaced the quantitative restriction on rice imports with tariffs. The collected amount will be given to farmers to improve their competitiveness through RCEF.
Under RCEF, P5 billion will be allocated to the Philippine Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) for the procurement of farm equipment to be distributed to 947 rice-producing towns in the Philippines.
P3 billion will be allotted to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to teach farmers how to produce inbred seeds, which will increase their yield by up to 50 percent from 4 metric tons per hectare (MTN/ha) to 6 MTN/ha.
RCEF will also provide P1 billion for the creation of a credit facility with minimal interest rates and collateral requirements.
The remaining P1 billion is allocated to PhilMech, PhilRice, the Agriculture Training Institute and the Technical Skills Development Authority for farmers’ skills training.
With the appointment of William Dar as acting Agriculture chief, Villar expressed hope that the department will now be more supportive of the full implementation of the law and the return of P4 billion for rice fund will be prioritized.
Senate committee on agriculture and food chairperson Cynthia Villar has filed a resolution that seeks to probe the implementation of the Rice Tarrification Law.
In particular, Senator Villar wants to find out the use of the rice competitiveness enhancement fund that was set up to help the farmers.
Villar said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released Php5-billion to the Department of Agriculture (DA) in December 2018 as assistance to farmers.
It was discovered, however, that only Php1-B went to the farmers’ sector.
The lawmaker said both departments had an opposing stand on the issue.
She added, “Hindi raw para sa rice competitiveness enhancement fund yun. Pero sabi ng DBM iyon daw ay para sa rice competitiveness fund ([The DA said] it was not for rice competitive enhancement fund. But DBM said it was for rice competitiveness fund). So we will know who is telling the truth.”
The senator said they want to find out where the DA used the said fund that is supposed to be used in the procurement of farm equipment to be given to rice farmer groups and cooperatives.
“Kasi this is very important, this is the competitiveness of our farmers kasi we have liberalized the importation of rice so we have to make our farmers as competitive as soon as possible,” Villar added.
Under the Rice Tarrification Law, the rice competitiveness enhancement fund must have a yearly allocation of Php10-Billion. (with reports from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf
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