Panel okay of rice subsidy fund bill lauded

October 24, 2019

HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Thursday lauded the passage by the House Committee on Agriculture of a substitute House Joint Resolution (HJR) authorizing the use of rice subsidy fund to purchase farmers’ palay (unhusked rice) amid the plunging rice prices following the liberalization of the rice industry.

“I thank my colleagues for the immediate passage of this measure to help our distressed farmers,” said Romualdez, one of the principal authors of the still unnumbered HJR.

Romualdez said the House of Representatives is sensitive to the plight of farmers, prompting them to move for the direct purchase of palay from local farmers and distribute rice subsidy in the form of actual rice, instead of cash.

“We want to ensure that our farmers are given assistance to address their concerns,” said Romualdez.

On Wednesday, the panel chaired by Quezon Rep. Mark Enverga adopted the HJR upon the motion of Deputy Speaker and Abono party-list Rep. Conrad Estrella III that stemmed from HJR No. 322 filed by Romualdez and his wife, Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez and HJR No.16 of Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte.

Enverga said the HJRs filed by the Romualdez couple and Villafuerte will help ease the plight of the country’s poor farmers.

“This measure will provide the needed funds to help the government intervene in the falling prices of palay. This will surely alleviate the plight of our rice farmers,” said Enverga.

Under HJR No. 322, the Romualdez couple cited P33.9 billion rice subsidy under this year’s P3.757-trillion national budget that could be utilized to directly buy back the “palay” of farmers.

Villafuerte in his HJR No. 16 mentioned some P29 billion rice subsidy fund that can be used to buy farmers’ palay.

The approved unnumbered HJR seeks to authorize the use of rice subsidy for the purchase of palay and mandates the Departments of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Defense (DND), Transportation (DoTR), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the local government units (LGUs) in coordination with the National Food Authority (NFA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA), to directly purchase palay from the local farmers and distribute rice subsidy in the form of actual rice, instead of cash.

The still unnumbered HJR said the NFA reported that they have 209,525.15 metric tons of imported rice in their custody as of August 22, 2019 and procured locally 5,864,007 bags of palay at 50 kilos per bag or 293,200.35 MT.

In their resolution, the Romualdez couple lauded President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte for pursuing the vision of food security for all Filipinos by allotting P137.1 billion for