THE TRANSFER of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) to the Department of Finance (DoF) from the Department of Agriculture (DA) will make the company less responsive to farmers’ needs, the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) said.

FFF National Manager Raul Q. Montemayor said the crop insurance program is a vital component of the DA’s food production program and is counted upon to compensate farmers suffering damage from natural calamities or animal disease.

“Without crop insurance, banks will find it too risky to lend to farmers, and farmers will find it very difficult to pay their loans, much less recover from calamities. It is therefore very important that the coverage and services of the program are synchronized with the plans and strategies of the DA,” Mr. Montemayor said in a statement Thursday.  

On Sept. 14, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) No. 148, which transferred the PCIC to the DoF.

“In order for the PCIC to effectively perform its mandate of providing insurance protection to farmers in the most-cost efficient manner, there is a need to align its plans and programs with national development policies and the government’s overall fiscal plan,” according to the EO.

Mr. Montemayor said the changes to the PCIC Board suggest a shift in priorities to cost concerns and away from responding promptly to farmers’ needs.

The EO reorganizes the PCIC Board to make the Finance secretary the chairman, relegating the Agriculture secretary to the vice-chair post.

Members of the board include the PCIC president, Land Bank of the Philippines president, Government Service Insurance System president and general manager, a private insurance industry representative, and a farmer representative.  

Previously, the PCIC Board had three farmer representatives and the executive director of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council.

“The three board seats previously allotted by Republic Act (RA) No. 8175 to farmer representatives were illegally reduced to only one seat,” Mr. Montemayor said.

Mr. Montemayor said farmers were not consulted adequately on the transfer. 

He urged Congress to revisit RA No. 10149 or the Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporation (GOCC) Governance Act, which was cited as the basis for the PCIC transfer to DoF.

“We recognize that the bureaucracy may need to be reorganized and streamlined from time to time. However, this should be done with proper consultation with affected stakeholders and also the legislators who crafted the charter of the GOCC involved,” Mr. Montemayor said.

BusinessWorld asked the DoF to comment but it had not replied at deadline time. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave