Rookie lawmaker urges cash aid for farmers, fisherfolk | Inquirer News
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Rookie lawmaker urges cash aid for farmers, fisherfolk

/ 05:48 AM July 31, 2022
Farmers planting rice seedlings. STORY: Rookie lawmaker urges cash aid for farmers, fisherfolk

Farmers plant rice seedlings | STOCK PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Given the hardships they endured under the Duterte administration and their role in national food security, a rookie lawmaker representing the agricultural sector urged the government to include farmers and fisherfolk in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4P).

AGRI Rep. Wilbert Lee, a businessman from Sorsogon and husband of former Rep. Delphine Gan Lee, made the call on Saturday after the removal of 1.3 million “nonpoor” households from the beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer program.

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Lee filed on Wednesday House Resolution No. 89, urging the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to include farmers and fisherfolk to replace those removed from the dole beneficiaries.

“Amid their suffering and appalling situation, serious attention should be given by the government to our farmers and fisherfolk now. We must concretely acknowledge their fundamental role in our economy, address their plight and give proper value to their contributions through tangible and impactful assistance to their children and households,” Lee wrote in his bill.

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Lee pointed out that farmers and fisherfolk in rural areas “remain the poorest” among the 11 basic sectors in the country since 2006.

Data from the Department of Agriculture’s Special Area for Agricultural Development showed a 31.6 percent poverty incidence among farmers in 2018, and 26.2 percent among fisherfolk.

This makes agricultural workers “vulnerable to physical and economic risks, coupled with financial stress due to zero savings or worse, indebtedness.”

The DSWD earlier said it was validating the list of 1.3 million beneficiaries who were no longer deemed qualified to receive cash aid under the 4Ps.

This is expected to free up more than P15 billion in cash aid, which will be given to new, eligible 4Ps beneficiaries.

The DSWD is expected to release the list of delisted beneficiaries and the new eligible recipients by September or October.

“Although the figures reported by the DSWD are still in the process of final validation, the cash assistance and slots for those who ‘graduated’ from the program, and are not considered extremely poor anymore, must be given to the poorest and most neglected sector and population —the farmers and fisherfolk, as long as they qualify with the criteria set forth in the 4Ps Act,” Lee said in his resolution.

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Republic Act No. 11310, or the 4Ps Institutionalization Act, provides for the automatic inclusion of farmers and fisherfolk in the standard targeting system, as long as they meet specific criteria.

“Apart from modernizing our agriculture infrastructure and equipment, we must give equal importance to integrated efforts on investing in human development among farmers and fisherfolks, which is the education of their children and healthy households to address the root causes of poverty,” Lee said.

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TAGS: cash aid for farmers, cash aid for fisherfolk, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), Wilbert Lee
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