Voting 21-0-0, senators on Tuesday approved on third reading the joint resolution directing government agencies to buy from farmers the rice needed by the 4.1-million beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.
READ: Villar wants rice farmers to avail of 4Ps benefits
They voted to adopt Joint Resolution 8, which authorizes the use of the rice subsidy as provided under the 4Ps in the General Appropriations Act of 2019 for the purchase of unmilled rice from farmers.
The resolution mandates the Social Welfare department, in coordination with the National Food Authority, to buy palay from the farmers in the provinces that have an oversupply of rice, such as Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Mindoro Oriental, Mindoro Occidental, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Zamboanga del Sur and Iloilo, and to distribute it instead of the cash assistance to the qualified beneficiaries.
READ: Rice farmers to get one-time P5k cash doleout
Senator Cynthia Villar, head of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, said the measure was crafted to help local farmers have a ready market for their produce, especially in the harvest season.
“In this way, the government’s rice subsidy program will become part of a viable strategy of ensuring a captive market for the palay produced by our farmers,” Villar said.
The 2019 GAA provides a total allocation of P33.9 billion for rice subsidies. The largest of that will be given to the 4Ps beneficiaries.
READ: Give farmers cash aid from rice tariff — Kiko
Under the program, the beneficiaries are given P600 per month or equivalent to 20 kilos of rice. Social Welfare confirmed that, for this year, at least P6.97 billion remains unspent under the rice subsidy program.
The resolution also encourages local government units that have a constant need for the rice to supply the requirements of their hospitals, jails, and other local institutions, feeding programs and calamity-program interventions from farmers.
READ: DSWD urged: Buy rice, boost farm income