Gov't urged to use rice sub­sidy to buy palay from farm­ers

Sun Star Bacolod - - Topstories -

MANILA -- A joint res­o­lu­tion, urg­ing gov­ern­ment agen­cies to use a to­tal al­lo­ca­tion of PHP37 bil­lion for the rice sub­sidy pro­gram to buy rice from lo­cal farm­ers, has been filed at the Se­nate to pro­tect them from the re­cent lib­er­al­iza­tion of rice im­por­ta­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment on Fri­day, Sen­a­tor Imee Mar­cos filed Se­nate Joint Res­o­lu­tion No. 4, which urges the Depart­ment of So­cial Wel­fare and Devel­op­ment (DSWD), Depart­ment of the In­te­rior and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, Depart­ment of Na­tional De­fense, Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion, and the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources, in co­or­di­na­tion with the Na­tional Food Au­thor­ity (NFA) and the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, to di­rectly buy palay (un­husked rice) from lo­cal farm­ers.

"De­spite the ef­forts made by the gov­ern­ment to pro­tect the lo­cal rice in­dus­try, large stocks of im­ported rice have de­pressed the buy­ing price of lo­cal palay to lev­els way be­low the cost pro­duc­tion," Mar­cos said in the res­o­lu­tion.

Mar­cos said the gov­ern­ment can use the al­lo­ca­tion of PHP33.9 bil­lion for rice sub­si­dies in the 2019 Gen­eral Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Act, the largest of which is given to the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the DSWD un­der the "Pantawid Pam­ilyang Pilipino Pro­gram (4Ps).

She added that the re­main­ing al­lo­ca­tions of PHP2.89 bil­lion for the rice sub­sidy pro­grams of mil­i­tary uni­formed per­son­nel, such as the pro­vi­sion of twenty ki­los of rice per month, in the form of fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance, to the uni­formed per­son­nel of the Philip­pine Army, Philip­pine Air Force, Philip­pine Navy, Philip­pine Coast Guard, Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice, Bureau of Jail Man­age­ment and Penol­ogy, and the Bureau of Fire Pro­tec­tion can also be uti­lized.

The sen­a­tor also noted that Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte has or­dered the NFA to ex­pend

their bud­get of PHP7 bil­lion for procur­ing palay from lo­cal farm­ers to pro­vide im­me­di­ate sup­port and as­sis­tance to the lo­cal rice in­dus­try.

She stressed the need to give as­sis­tance to two mil­lion farm­ers suf­fer­ing due to the drop in farm gate prices of palay after nearly four mil­lion bags of rice flooded the Philip­pine mar­kets.

"Da­pat ngayon ang presyo ng palay ay mataas na at mamili na ang NFA dahil ang fear natin na matam­bakan tayo ng lokal na bi­gas ha­bang pa­pa­sok na ang ani­han(har­vest sea­son) next week, yari tayo (The NFA should im­me­di­ately in­crease the buy­ing price for palay and start pur­chas­ing it from lo­cal farm­ers. Our fear is that we might be flooded with lo­cal rice once har­vest sea­son starts next week)," Mar­cos said.

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