BAGUIO CITY — Senator Imee Marcos has assured rice farmers of P6.9 billion in additional aid by December, in the form of palay purchases or cash, using undisbursed funds from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Marcos allayed worries that a memorandum of agreement among the DSWD, Department of Agriculture and National Food Authority to purchase palay from local farmers “was held in abeyance” following a Supreme Court decision in October preventing budget allocations for items not specified in the national budget through a mere resolution in Congress.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives earlier approved joint resolutions to convert cash aid from the DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) into rice, to be bought from local farmers unable to compete with cheap rice imports.
However, the high court ruling in the case of Ang Nars partylist vs. the Executive Secretary et al. would require that the law enacting this year’s national budget, the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA), be amended before the relief measure could be implemented.
“The Senate hopes to amend the 4Ps allocations in the GAA by December, before the rice harvest season ends and unspent budget revert to the general fund,” Marcos said.
“As we speak, both Houses are rushing a bill, in compliance with the new Supreme Court ruling to amend GAA 2019, I am confident it will pass in time,” Marcos added. The P6.9 billion aid from the DSWD budget answers President Duterte’s call on lawmakers to help local rice farmers adjust to the rice tariffication law during the harvest season and will augment the P5,000 cash assistance promised by the Department of Agriculture before Christmas, Marcos added.