The House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved on final reading a proposal authorizing the Department of Agriculture (DA) to use the excess rice tariff revenues under the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) for direct cash assistance to farmers.
Voting 195-0-0, the chamber passed on third reading House Bill 9950, or the proposed Cash Assistance for Filipino Farmers Act.
ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap, author of the bill, emphasized the urgency of intervening for farmers in light of the current state of declining palay (unhusked rice) prices and the crippling effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the bill, the DA shall be authorized to use the annual tariff revenues in excess of P10 billion directly remitted from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for direct cash assistance to farmers cultivating two hectares of rice lands until 2024.
“This provision to our farmers shall provide them with immediate aid and assistance, most especially during these difficult times,” Yap said.
The bill directs the BOC to remit to the DA the excess funds.
All import duties collected from rice imports under the RTL go to the annual PHP10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
The BOC and the DA shall submit separate reports to Congress by year-end, through the House Committee on Agriculture, on the remittance of funds and the actual disbursement for the year, respectively.
Citing the latest data, the BOC said it has collected P14.6 billion.