Robin pushes for scholarship, health services for farmers under the Rice Tariffication Act

Published August 10, 2022, 4:11 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Robinhood “Robin” Padilla is pushing for scholarship and health services for farmer-beneficiaries of the Rice Tariffication Act, also known as Republic Act (RA) 11203.

In Senate Bill (SB) 231, which he filed, Padilla also sought to increase the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) to enhance the competitiveness of Filipino farmers.

“This measure also proposes to increase the amount earmarked for RCEF from P10 billion annually to P15 billion to aid our farmers in reducing the rice production cost while increasing farmer incomes. In addition to the proposed amendments, this representation proposes that 10 percent of the RCEF shall be made available for scholarship, health and other similar benefits for the rice fund beneficiaries,” the explanatory note of the Padilla bill stated.

Padilla noted there have been issues in the implementation of the law, including loopholes that allowed the entry of rice from abroad – forcing Filipino farmers to lower the prices of their own produce.

Worse, he lamented that the P10-billion annual RCEF for farm mechanization, seed development, propagation and promotion, and credit assistance and extension services failed to bring down production costs for Filipino farmers.

Padilla proposed the following amendments to the law in his bill:

* Allowing the export of rice except during harvest season;

* Increasing the RCEF from P10 billion to P15 billion a year for the next six years;

* Allocating 20 percent of the rice fund for rice seed development, propagation and promotion; and

* Allocating 10 percent of the rice fund for scholarship, health and other benefits for farmer beneficiaries.

“With this representation’s hope to plug the loopholes of RA 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law, the passage of this measure is earnestly sought,” Padilla said.