SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go expressed at the Senate session his intention to co-sponsor Senate Joint Resolution No. 8, which urges the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to use a portion of its funds to buy palay (unhusked rice) from local farmers.
The fund, amounting to P28.5 billion, is the rice subsidy for beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) that the DSWD implements.
The beneficiaries are entitled to P600 each of rice subsidy per month. The joint resolution seeks to provide them 20 kilograms of rice each instead of the cash assistance.
“Ito ay agarang tugon sa pangangailangan ng ating mga magsasaka,” Go said of the joint resolution.
Senate Joint Resolution No. 8 is entitled as the “Joint Resolution Directing the Departments of Social Welfare, Interior and Local Government, National Defense, Transportation and Environment and Natural Resources as well as local government units, in Coordination with the National Food Authority (NFA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to directly purchase palay from local farmers for the rice subsidy program.”
The proposed scheme for 4Ps beneficiaries will also be implemented for the uniformed personnel of the Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force, Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Fire Protection, and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority.
Local farmers are currently experiencing difficulties due to the low buying price for palay, a result of the influx of imported rice into the country.
The influx is due, in turn, to the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law, which the government is implementing to prevent shortage of rice supply.
“Sa ngayon, marami pa ring mga magsasaka ang naghihirap at below minimum wage ang kinikita dahil sa pagdagsa ng murang bigas mula sa ibang bansa. Reports state that 200,000 farmers have stopped working on food production and 4,000 rice mills have ceased operations. Kaya sinusuportahan ko ang joint resolution,” Go said.
The joint resolution, sponsored by Senator Cynthia Villar, was approved earlier in the day at the joint hearing of the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food, Agrarian Reform, and Finance.
At the Senate session, Go said he has personally asked President Rodrigo Duterte to certify the joint resolution as urgent.
“Nilapitan po ako nina Senator Imee Marcos at Senator Cynthia Villar upang magsilbing tulay patungo kay President Rodrigo Duterte. Hangad nilang ma-certify as urgent ng Pangulo ang joint resolution na ito. Hiniling ko na po ang aksyong ito sa ating Pangulo, at nangako siyang gagawin ito kapag naisumite na sa kaniya ang committee report. Makakaasa ang mga magsasaka na lagi akong magiging kaakibat nila,” said Go.
If certified as urgent, the third reading of the joint resolution may take place immediately after the second reading, without the three days’ gap normally required between the two readings.
If approved by the Senate, the joint resolution will be forwarded to the House of Representatives to go through the same process, similar to what happens to a bill.