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1.67 million farmers to benefit from cash assistance law

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star
1.67 million farmers to benefit from cash assistance law
The law will be a big help to farmers, who are not only reeling from the effects of typhoons, but also from the pandemic, Sen. Cynthia Villar said over the weekend.
Philstar.com / File Photo

MANILA, Philippines — At least 1.673 million rice farmers stand to benefit from the newly enacted Republic Act (RA) 11598 or the Cash Assistance to Filipino Farmers Act.

The law will be a big help to farmers, who are not only reeling from the effects of typhoons, but also from the pandemic, Sen. Cynthia Villar said over the weekend.

Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and food as well as principal author of the law, thanked President Duterte for signing RA 11598 on Dec. 10.

Details of the law were released only last week.

Villar said the country’s rice farmers continue to face the challenges brought about by the liberalization of rice importation in 2019 as well as the typhoons that destroyed their farms and crops.

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

“Any amount we give to our farmers is a big help in improving their quality of life,” she added.

Under the law, the government will provide cash assistance to small farmers hit hard by calamities.

The law mandates the Department of Agriculture (DA) to provide cash to farmers tilling two hectares of land and below until 2024 – estimated at 1.673 million as listed in the Registry System of Basic Sectors.

The DA can tap funds from the annual tariff revenues in excess of P10 billion under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.

The law also requires the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to directly remit the excess funds to the DA.

At the end of each year, the BOC and DA are mandated to submit to Congress separate reports on the remittance of funds and actual fund disbursements.

Villar said the excess collection in 2019 amounting to P2.14 billion and P5.408 billion in 2020 had been allocated as cash assistance to rice farmers as provided under the General Appropriations Act of 2021.

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