House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Thursday lauded the passage of a substitute House Joint Resolution authorizing the use of rice subsidy fund to purchase farmers’ “palay” (unhusked rice) amid its plunging 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 made the statement in response to the House committee on agriculture’s action to adopt the joint resolution that was filed by Romualdez and his wife, Tingog Party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez as HJR 322 and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte as HJR 16.
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
Enverga said the HJRs filed by the Romualdez couple and Villafuerte are very helpful to ease the plight of the country’s poor farmers.
“This measure will provide the needed funds to help the government intervene the falling prices of palay. This will surely alleviate the plight of our rice farmers,” said Enverga.
Under HJR 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.
On the other hand, Villafuerte’s HJR 16 mentioned some P29-billion rice subsidy fund that can be used to help farmers buy their palay.
The approved HJR authorizes the use of rice subsidy for the purchase of palay and mandates the Departments of Social Welfare and Development, Interior and Local Government, National Defense, Transportation, Environment and Natural Resources, and the local government units in coordination with the National Food Authority and the Department of Agriculture, to directly purchase palay from the local farmers and distribute rice subsidy in the form of actual rice, instead of cash.
The 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.