P12.7B cash aid to farmers is 'fruit of their labor', says lawmaker

P12.7B cash aid to farmers is 'fruit of their labor', says lawmaker

MANILA, Philippines – A senator on Monday expressed support for Malacanang’s move to continue providing financial aid to farmers, saying that the assistance was the fruit of farmers’ hard work. 

Earlier, President Ferdinand Marcos approved the release of P12.7 billion to fund a P5,000 cash aid for each of 2.3 million small rice farmers under the government's Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) program. 

The President has also ordered the Department of Agriculture (DA) to use the excess collections of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) to provide drying, mechanization, and other equipment for rice farmers to help them sustain their productivity.

“Second downpayment ‘yan ng ayuda. May parating pa. Last year, we collected P22.7 billion in rice tariffs.  Ang P10 billion ay na-earmark na para sa mga proyekto sa ilalim ng RCEF. Imbes na i-remit ang sobra na P12.7 billion sa Treasury, iniutos ng Pangulo na ibalik ito sa mga magsasaka,” Sen. Francis Tolentino said in a statement.

“From January to August this year, the Bureau of Collections had already collected P16.8 billion. This means the excess collection of P6.8 billion during the 8 month period will be distributed to farmers too,” the lawmaker added.

Senator Tolentino likened the government’s assistance to farmers harvesting the fruit of their labor.

“This is the katas ng bigas that farmers are entitled to as envisioned by law. The principle is that collected duties on rice must be plowed back to them. The law is clear: Farmers are the sole beneficiaries of the tax dividends, not the government. Each and every centavo must be given to them whether in equipment, like tractors, or cash,” he said. 

“The President did not impound them. And opened the floodgates for their distribution because he knows the law, and he feels for the farmers.” 

Under Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), revenues collected from rice tariffs should pay for the yearly requirement of P10 billion for the RCEF to bankroll programs and projects raising the competitiveness and output of rice farmers.

Tolentino also stressed that “farmers are entitled to reparations due to disruptions caused by imports. The RCEF is the mechanism to compensate the farmers in the hope that the indemnification they will receive will not only cover losses but will be reinvested in things that will boost productivity and make them more competitive.”

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