Peasant group welcomes Senator Kiko’s call for direct cash aid to farmers

KMP demands more fund, support for food producers

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) welcomes Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan’s call to utilize excess tax collection from the Rice Liberalization Law (RLL) to provide direct cash assistance to farmers. “There are numerous possible sources of funding to address the desperate situation of Filipino rice farmers amid the dive of palay prices this harvest season, the RLL tax fund is definitely among them,” KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos.

Senator Pangilinan pointed out last week that tax collection from the RLL has reached P10.728 billion as of July 2020, which is P728 million more than the P10 billion fund needed for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Program (RCEP). He urged that this fund be used to “get cash [in the farmers’] hands so they could continue to plant and put food on every Filipino’s table.”

“If this P728 million is immediately provided as P10,000 cash aid, it will provide much-needed assistance to 72,800 farming families,” Ramos says. KMP, along with several other peasant organizations have been calling for P10,000 immediate cash aid since the onset of strict lockdowns in March. “But that is not enough, we extend Senator Pangilinan’s call and demand that the entire RLL tax fund be provided as cash aid to rice farmers. This will provide support to an additional one million farmer households,” Ramos continued.

“Napakababa ng bili sa presyo ng palay ngayon, dumadausdos na ito sa P10 kada kilo lang at halos wala nang umaabot sa P16 kada kilo. Luging-lugi ang mga magsasaka,” Ramos adds. According to KMP and rice watch group Bantay Bigas’ independent palay price monitoring, the following are the average prices of palay per kilo in the following provinces and regions:

Luzon: 

Bicol region P10-14

Tarlac P11-12

Ilocos Sur P11-13

Nueva Ecija P11-13

Camarines Sur P11.50- 14

Bulacan P12

Mindoro P12

Isabela P12- 13.50

Pangasinan P12-12.30

Visayas: 

Negros Occidental P10-14

Capiz P10-11

Antique P12.50

Mindanao:

Caraga P11

Agusan del Sur P13

Davao de Oro P13.14

Davao del Norte P13.50

South Cotabato P13.50

Surigao delSur P13.50

North Cotabato P14

Lanao del Norte P15

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The peasant leader pointed out that P10-billion is a measly amount compared to the more than P85 billion losses incurred by rice farmers because of the over-imporation of rice due to the RLL. “Sa totoo lang, napakalaki pa ng atraso ng gobyerno sa mga magsasaka. Kung seryoso ito, napakarami pa nitong pwedeng pagkunan ng pondo para tulungan ang mga magsasaka,” Ramos says. “The government is duty-bound to ensure that farmer families remain productive in providing much-needed food for the Filipino population,” he added.

KMP cites that if the P19.1 billion budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is instead utilized for providing P10,000 direct cash aid for farmers, it can benefit another 1.91 million farmer families. “Funding the NTF-ELCAC is counterproductive and a waste of taxpayers’ money. It would be best and beneficial to all to defund and abolish the NTF-ELCAC, and rechannel its budget to food production subsidies,” Ramos ended. #

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