SENATOR Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan urges swift action from government to ease the impact of spiraling prices, pitching subsidies to the affected sectors, and steady assistance, especially in times of calamities.
“Mabigat ang pasan-pasan ng mga Pilipino ngayon. Meron nang COVID, meron pang pagtaas ng presyo ng langis at pagkain,” Pangilinan said.
“Para magtagumpay laban sa COVID at gutom, kailangan ng mas steady na suporta para sa mga magsasaka at mangingisda laban sa mga pagsubok tulad bagyo at baha. Kailangan nila ng subsidies,” he added.
As of October 18, the Department of Agriculture reported at least P2.17 billion damage in agri-fishery in the Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Mimaropa, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, and Soccsksargen, affecting 76,442 farmers and fishers, with volume of production loss at 101,818 metric tons (MT) and 85,744 hectares of agricultural areas.
DA said it had allotted an initial P822 million worth of various interventions to farmers and fisherfolk, including P650 million allocated for the provision of emergency loans to affected farmers and fishers. Each affected household can borrow P20,000, at zero interest, no collateral, and payable in 10 years.
Aside from the loan, the DA has allotted P172 million under its Quick Response Fund (QRF) to rehabilitate affected areas in the three regions by providing hybrid and certified rice seeds, corn seeds, fertilizers, and livestock livelihood assistance (chicken, goat, and cattle), drugs and biologics, plus feeds.
Pangilinan urged local agricultural offices to reach out to all affected farmers and fishers to make sure they receive the assistance.
“Dapat lahat ng magsasaka at mangingisda ay makatanggap ng tulong. Di pa nga nakakabangon sa COVID at sa over-importation ng bigas, gulay, at baboy, binagyo pa at binaha,” he said.
Pangilinan said that the Sagip Saka law would also play a key role in helping farmers recover during calamities and shield consumers from high prices of vegetables and rice.
The law, authored by Pangilinan, will provide assistance like agricultural extension services; skills development; provision of production inputs, equipment, and facilities; and infrastructure for production and post-production activities.
It should also help improve farmers’ and fisherfolk’s access to credit grants, crop insurance, and new technologies. Another form of assistance is helping their trade grow by improving their access to markets.
The law also orders all government entities to directly purchase agricultural and fisheries products from local farmer and fisherfolk enterprises.
This has proven beneficial to both the farmers and consumers amid the pandemic as over 400 local government units purchased almost P3 billion in food supplies for their constituents directly from farmers’ groups at a lower cost.
“Kung sakto ang suporta sa mga magsasaka natin, magkakaroon sila ng kakayahang itago at sagipin ang kanilang ani at masiguro ang supply kahit may bagyo. Kung sapat ang supply, hindi tataas ang presyo,” Pangilinan said.