With 271 affirmative votes, the measure mandating full insurance coverage to farmer-beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) during natural calamities was passed on third and final reading on Tuesday, Jan. 31.
Approved during Tuesday's plenary session was House Bill (HB) No.6680, which was a consolidation of HB nos. 3178 and 3839 introduced by Reps. Ralph Recto (6th district, Batangas) Kristine Singson-Meehan (2nd district, Ilocos Norte), respectively.
The full title of the bill reads, "the Act granting full insurance coverage to all qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) of the , amending for the purpose Republic Act (RA) No. 6657, as amended by No. 9700, otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law Of 1988”.
Deputy Speaker and Batangas 6th district Rep. Ralph Recto, who presided over Tuesday afternoon's session, announced the third reading passage of HB No.6680 after the conduct of nominal voting. There were neither negative votes nor abstentions.
“This measure, if enacted into law, is envisioned to help farmers recover from the adverse effects of circumstances that are beyond their control, such as natural calamities, the infestation of plant diseases and pests, or even death and injury of the beneficiary,” House Speaker and Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez said.
“This is part of our legislative commitment to ensure food security by helping the hands that feed the nation – our farmers – and make sure they bounce back from any event that may affect their ability to produce the food we have on our tables,” he added.
HB 6680 amends RA No. 6657, as Amended by Republic Act (RA) No. 9700, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988.
The measure intends to provide immediate financial assistance to ARBs in the event of natural calamities to make their losses more bearable and to mitigate the effects of these occurrences by providing full insurance coverage to these farmers.
Under the bill, full insurance coverage is granted to all qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries who are actually tilling the land for compensable losses that are also defined under the measure.
HB 6680 also defined who the qualified ARBs are, and they are those mentioned in Section 3(b) of RA No.10000, otherwise known as the “Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act of 2009".
Pro-farmer solon AGRI Party-list Rep. Wilbert T. Lee has hailed the legislative progress of HB No.6680, which he said aims to ease the impact of natural calamities on affected ARBs by providing them with full insurance coverage.
“This is a big win for agrarian reform beneficiaries, especially those who live in areas that are becoming more and more vulnerable to the effects of climate change,” Lee said.
"This measure is crucial for our food security efforts because we give farmers the chance to recover from the calamities that now occur more frequently," added the Bicol lawmaker.
As per the measure, compensable losses include those resulting from:
1. Natural calamities such as typhoon, flood, drought, earthquake, volcanic eruption, frost, and other destructive natural phenomena such as heat and hot wind;
2. Plant diseases caused by pathogens, bacteria, fungi, viruses, virus-like pathogens, and other similar foreign bodies;
3. Pest infestations caused by nematodes, insects, mites and spiders, millipedes and centipedes, symphylans, slugs and snails, sow bugs and pillbugs, parasitic higher plants, and other parasites; and
4. Loss of life or injury to the qualified agrarian reform beneficiary due to accident or any of the aforementioned causes.
For purposes of insurance coverage, the following crops and other farming and fishery produce are covered under the measure:
1. Palay, corn, sugarcane, high-value crops as defined in Section 4(b) of Republic Act No. 7900, otherwise known as the ‘High-Value Crops Development Act of 1995’, coconut, tobacco;
2. Crops or stocks in fisheries farms;
3. Livestock; and
4. Non-crop agricultural assets used in actual farming and reported to and certified by the DAR.