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Villar hopes Duterte will sign farmers’ cash assistance law

The Philippine Star
Villar hopes Duterte will sign farmersâ cash assistance law
Sen. Cynthia Villar remains optimistic that President Duterte will sign the Cash Assistance to Filipino Rice Farmers’ Act of 2020 before his term ends.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Citing the urgency of helping farmers due to the crippling effects of the coronavirus pandemic, Sen. Cynthia Villar remains confident President Duterte will sign into law the Cash Assistance to Filipino Rice Farmers Act of 2020 that will benefit over 1.673 million small rice farmers.

Villar, chairperson of the Senate agriculture and food committee, said the Cash Assistance for Filipino Rice Farmers Act of 2020 proposes that any amount in excess of the P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund collection by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) shall automatically be given as cash assistance to rice farmers tilling two hectares or less of rice land, estimated at 1.673 million as listed in the Registry System of Basic Sectors.

Villar noted that the country’s rice farmers are continuously facing the challenges brought about by the liberalization of rice importation in 2019, the series of destructive typhoons that hit their farms and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So I strongly believe that our farmers need more support and assistance to cope with the several challenges, especially now that we are in a pandemic, and their health is also at risk,” the senator said.

Toward this end, she said the state shall provide monetary assistance to the hardest hit segments of small farmers in the form of actual cash given to them.

“Any amount we give to our farmers will be a big help to augment their income and improve their poor living condition,” she said.

According to Villar, excess collection in 2019 amounting to P2.135 billion and P5.408 billion in 2020 were already allocated as cash assistance to Filipino rice farmers under the General Appropriations Act of 2021.

In its September report, the BOC said it has recorded a collection from rice importation amounting to P11.69 billion in tariffs from the 1.74 million metric tons of rice imports from January to August this year, she noted.

Villar also said they opted to adopt the House version of the Cash Assistance for Filipino Farmers Act under House Bill 9950 which mandates the beneficiaries are rice farmers owning two hectares of rice land and below.

According to Villar, the House version follows the provision under the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) that covers rice farmers owning two hectares of land and below.

Republic Act 11203 or RTL seeks to improve the Filipino rice farmers’ competitiveness and income in the wake of the local rice trade policy’s liberalization.

CYNTHIA VILLAR
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