SENATOR Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan urges concerned agencies to ensure that farmers and fishers are now receiving fuel subsidies, especially in the light of the new round of fuel increases Tuesday.
“Ang ayuda sa magsasaka at mangingisda, dapat ibigay na. Kailangan kumilos dito ang pamahalaan nang madalian dahil hindi na kinakaya ng ating magsasaka ang gastos sa pagtatanim,” said the vice-presidential candidate.
“Hindi na rin makapangisda ang ilan. Sa taas ng presyo ng krudo, yung ilang litro, hindi na umaabot sa lugar na maraming huli,” Pangilinan added.
The Commission on Elections last week announced It has exempted from the election spending ban the Department of Agriculture’s subsidy programs for farmers and fisherfolk.
Covered by the exemption are P1.1 billion worth of fuel subsidies for corn farmers and fisherfolk as well as cash assistance for rice farmers and the procurement of farming equipment and machinery.
Pangilinan stressed agricultural workers barely make both ends meet due to the high production costs, including fuel.
A recent report by the Philippine Statistics Authority states that out of the 17 regions, six registered high yearly increases in farmgate palay price compared to the average price in February 2021.
Despite this, many farmers lament that their earnings are being eaten up by the high cost of farm inputs, including diesel which they use for the water pump for the entire cropping season.
Pangilinan said the continuous flooding of the market of rice imports due to the Rice Tariffication Law gives the country’s farmers unwarranted competition for their produce.
He reiterated that the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem will immediately seek a review of the law to find out the provisions detrimental to local farmers.
Pangilinan added that the windfall of tax collection from the rice tariff should also directly benefit the farmers.
“Matagal nang dumadaing ang ating magsasaka. Kailangan silipin kung ano’ng lalong nagpapahirap sa kanila,” he said.
“Walang batas na nakaukit sa bato. Kailangan tumutugon ito sa pangangailangan ng tao. Kung nakakasama, bakit hindi baguhin o alisin?” Pangilinan said.