Philippine Daily Inquirer

House panel OKS bid to give poor farmers rice instead of cash subsidy

- By DJ Yap @deejayapin­q

The House agricultur­e and food panel on Wednesday approved a measure that would replace the P600-per-month rice subsidy for beneficiar­ies of the conditiona­l cash transfer with actual rice bought from local farmers affected by the influx of cheap imported rice due to the rice tarifficat­ion law.

The panel chaired by Quezon Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga endorsed for plenary considerat­ion a joint resolution that would authorize the use of the P33.9-billion allocation for rice subsidies in the 2019 budget for the purchase of palay or unhusked rice from farmers.

The resolution would also allow government agencies to distribute the monthly rice subsidy in the form of actual rice instead of cash.

Presidenti­al Adviser on Legislativ­e Affairs Adelino Sitoy gave assurances that the measure would be certified as urgent.

The joint resolution was authored by seven lawmakers, including Enverga, Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuert­e Jr. and Majority Leader Martin Romualdez.

Beneficiar­ies of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program currently receive cash grants, including P600 in rice subsidy equivalent to about 20 kilos of rice.

The rice tarifficat­ion law, or RA 11203, was meant to give access to cheap rice but allowed the unimpeded importatio­n of rice with correspond­ing tariffs. The law caused a drastic drop in the price of local palay.

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