A MEASURE tapping rice tariffs to provide cash assistance to farmers affected by the pandemic as well as the November typhoons was approved on third and final reading at the Senate Monday.
With 19 affirmative votes, no negatives and no abstentions, the chamber approved Senate Bill No. 1927, which will be financed automatically from any rice import tariffs collected in excess of the P10 billion funding commitment to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
“Sa kabila ng paghagupit ng sunod-sunod na bagyo na bilyong pisong halaga ang winasak sa sektor ng agrikultura, patuloy pa rin pagbagsak ng presyo ng palay (Farmers have suffered damage from consecutive typhoons and low prices of palay),” Senator Francis N. Pangilinan said in a statement.
“Kumbaga sa maysakit, nasa kritikal na kondisyon sila ngayon. Emergency ito dahil dito rin nakasalalay ang ating food security (Their condition is critical. It is an emergency because we depend on farmers for food security).”
If signed, the proposed Cash Assistance for Filipino Farmers Act of 2020, automatically sets aside any rice import tariffs in excess of the RCEF’s P10 billion for cash assistance to farmers until 2024.
Eligible for aid are farmers owning one hectare of rice land or less. Beneficiaries will be identified via the Department of Agriculture’s Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture.
The November typhoons caused at least P12 billion worth of crop damage.
Senator Cynthia A. Villar had said in the October hearing on the proposal that preliminary data showed P13.861 billion were collected by the Bureau of Customs between January and September. — Charmaine A. Tadalan