Senator Imee Marcos on Monday, April 12, said calamity declarations should not anymore be the only basis for releasing aid to crop and livestock farmers coping with natural calamities such as typhoons and animal diseases.
Marcos, chairwoman of the Senate economic affairs committee, issued the statement as the Senate Committee of the Whole discussed the effects of increased pork importation amid the food crisis brought about by the African Swine Fever (ASF).
“Local hog raisers are reeling from the delay in additional fund assistance attached to a state of calamity declaration. Let’s not wait for more hog raisers to shut down business and for the local industry to collapse,” Marcos said in a statement.
The government has yet to declare a state of calamity due to ASF, despite the spread of the highly contagious animal disease in the country, she noted.
The lawmaker cited her Senate Bill 883, which calls for an “index-based insurance system” wherein neither a disaster declaration nor an assessment by an insurance company is necessary for the release of financial aid to crop and livestock farmers.
“Farmers need not file claims, as in the traditional system, because financial relief will automatically be triggered when certain predetermined thresholds are reached, like weather conditions as rainfall or wind speed, or animal disease infection rates in areas where an outbreak is suspected,” Marcos explained.
Under the billl, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) will be tasked to identify “index-based insurance products” so that protection can be expanded to include fortuitous events, as defined by Article 1174 of the Civil Code, which include “acts of God,” natural occurrences, as well as “acts of man,” such as robbery, riots, strikes, wars, and governmental prohibitions that can lead to food shortages.
“The PCIC has a long track record of efficiency, despite being underfunded, and can pilot this alternative system that assures a swifter release of aid to farmers and helps ensure food security when calamity strikes,” Marcos said.
The quicker aid response, she said, would encourage more crop and livestock farmers to insure their produce. Less than 34 percent of the country’s food producers are insured with the PCIC, she noted.
“Hog raisers, in particular, will also be encouraged to report rather than hide the incidence of animal diseases like ASF,” she added.