House Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero on Monday called on the Department of Agriculture and Department of Finance to use the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law to directly disburse cash to farmers who are reeling from low palay prices.
In a statement, Romero said the Rice Tariffication Law or Republic Act 11203 does not have provisions for cash grants, either conditional or unconditional.
“With palay prices at their record eight-year low and with cash flow pressure bearing down on farmers and their families, hard cash is what the farmers need to cope with the low market price for their harvests, not the various forms of aid in the Rice Tariffication law,” Romero said.
Romero said under the TRAIN law, the unconditional cash transfers due to farmers’ families who are in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) should be funded and disbursed now.
“Those families can have hard cash to pay for the daily needs, schooling expenses, and preparations for Christmas,” Romero said.
The economist solon further highlighted that the TRAIN law has a catch-all clause in its Section 82 for “other social benefits programs to be developed and implemented by the government”, which could be used as another basis for direct cash aid to distressed farmers.
“Time is of the essence because Christmas is fast approaching and in November families need cash to pay for the tuition of their kids going to college,” he added.
The House leader said various executive agencies can be administratively ordered to source all their rice benefits for their operations and personnel directly from local farmers and the farmers’ cooperatives.
“The Department of Agriculture just has to work faster. The response measures should have been ready months ago, however it is not too late for them to catch up, but they must do so in the weeks ahead before this year ends. They have the funds as authorized by RA 11203,” Romero added.