House panel OKs joint resolution to tap 2019 rice subsidy fund to buy palay
MANILA, Philippines — The House committee on agriculture and food approved Wednesday a joint resolution authorizing the use of the remaining P6.97 billion rice subsidy fund under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) for the procurement of palay from local farmers.
Quezon 1st District Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga, chair of the panel, said the still unnumbered resolution would be tackled at plenary once the chamber resumes sessions on November 4.
If certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte, Enverga said the proposed law could be approved on second and final reading on the same day.
“Umaasa kami na sana naman makita ng executive department ‘yung kahalagahan nito, lalo’t higit ‘yung timing nito (We are hoping that the executive department will see the importance and urgency of this measure). So we’re hopeful na sana magkaroon ng (that there would be a) certification from President,” the lawmaker said in an interview.
During the hearing, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office Sec. Adelino Sitoy said they would work for the immediate certification of the measure as urgent.
The joint resolution seeks to replace the P600 per month rice subsidy given to 4Ps beneficiaries with actual rice. Thus, the unused P6.97 billion budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for 4Ps rice subsidy from October to December would be transferred to the National Food Authority, which would buy palay from local farmers at P19 per kilo.
If enacted into law, DSWD National Program Manager for 4Ps Gemma Gabuya said the program would be piloted in Regions I, II, III, IV-A, IV-B, V, and VI until December.
Republic Act No. 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Law has been blamed for the influx of imported rice in the country which triggered local rice prices to drop to as low as P7 per kilo in some areas. The law signed February this year replaces quantitative restrictions on imported rice with tariffs or taxes.
Both the Senate and House have launched inquiries into the law’s impacts on farmers. Enverga said they would resume their inquiry on the matter by November.
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