Pangilinan pushes for agricultural pension for farmers, fisherfolk
SENATOR Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Monday filed a measure that seeks to create a social security and pension program for farmers and fisherfolk.
“Kinikilala ng panukalang batas na ito ang mahalagang papel at kontribusyon ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda sa araw-araw nating pamumuhay (This proposed measure recognizes the fundamental role and contributions of our farmers and fisherfolk on our everyday lives), Pangilinan said.
“Ang benepisyong matatanggap nila ay pasasalamat at pagkilala sa kanilang serbisyo at sakripisyo para mapakain ang sambayanang Pilipino. (The benefits they will receive will be our gratitude and recognition to their service and sacrifice to feed the Filipino people),” He added.
The still unnumbered Senate Bill which is to be known as the Pensyonadong Magsasaka at Mangingisda Act seeks to establish the Farmers and Fisherfolk Social Security Program that shall provide agricultural workers a substantial and reliable source of income security and secured retirement benefits in their old age.
Under the measure, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) and the Social Security System (SSS) shall act as the primary agencies tasked to implement the provisions of the law.
In 2016, Pangilinan met Mang Romeo, a rice farmer from Nueva Ecija, whom at the time was 73 years old and still farming for six decades since he was 12 years old.
“Anim na dekada na tayong pinapakain ni Mang Romeo. Pero ilang dekada man siyang nagbabanat ng buto sa pagsasaka, nananatili pa rin siyang mahirap. Hindi ito tama. Hindi ito makatarungan,” said the former Senate Agriculture chair and food security secretary.
The average age of farmers in the Philippines ranges from 57 to 59 years old. Studies show that while most are engaged in farming for an average of 30 years, there are some who keep on farming until 89 years old.
In a recent study published in the Philippine Journal of Science, 65% of farmers believe that their children “won’t have any future” in farming and consider tilling the soil as a last resort for earning a living.
“Kailangang magpursige ang estado na matiyak ang mas magandang kalidad ng buhay para sa mga nagpapakain sa bayan, na sila ay may maasahang retirement benefits at social security. (The State must strive to ensure a better quality of life and provide a substantial and reliable source of retirement benefits and social security to the very people who feed the nation.) To secure our food, we must secure our farmers first,” said Pangilinan.