RTL excess revenues for aid scrutinized for being fused with infrastructure funds

·2 min read
A farmer removes weeds growing alongside with ride stalks at a ricefield in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro in Philippines, August 27, 2018. A lawmaker criticized the excess revenues to be collected by the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Program (RCEP) of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) on September 5, because it was infused with other programs and does not specify that it should go directly to farmers. REUTERS/Erik De Castro
A farmer removes weeds growing alongside with ride stalks at a ricefield in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro in Philippines, August 27, 2018. A lawmaker criticized the excess revenues to be collected by the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Program (RCEP) of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) on September 5, because it was infused with other programs and does not specify that it should go directly to farmers. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

Gabriela Women's Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas criticized the excess revenues to be collected by the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Program (RCEP) of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) on Monday (September 5), because it was infused with other programs and does not specify that it should go directly to farmers.

Under the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) proposed budget, cash assistance is under the Support to Infrastructure Projects and Social Programs (SIPSP).

Hindi nakasaad na exclusively lamang gagamitin para sa cash assistance ang excess revenue mula sa RCEP. Hinalo ito sa purpose #1 na maaaring gamitin pa sa ibang pang programa tulad ng Support to Infrastructure Projects and Social Programs o SIPSP, tama po ba?” the women's representative queried.

(It is not specified that excess revenue from RCEP will be exclusively used for cash assistance. It was infused with purpose #1 that it may be used in other program such as the Support to Infrastructure Projects and Social Programs (SIPSP), is that correct?)

To which Telma Tolentino from the DA’s Budget Office replied, “Ito po ay nakalump dun sa Support to Infrastructure and Social Program[s] (SIPSP) mainly because hindi po natin kaya nga po kaagad ipakita.

(This is lumped with the Support to Infrastructure and Social Programs mainly because we can’t see it right away.)

Mercedito Sombilla, DA’s Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and Regulation, added that concerned government agencies have already coordinated for this matter.

“I think there is already an agreement among these agencies that automatically because of the 1159A, that excess revenue automatically goes to DA for distribution as cash assistance for the rice farmers,” she said.

Farmer groups are asking the Marcos administration for a one-time cash assistance worth P15,000 due to the rising prices of goods, especially farm inputs – financed by unspent funds worth P9 billion from rice tariffs.

According to Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) chairperson Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, the amount can help as much as 3 million rice farmers.

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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