A BILL establishing a conditional cash transfer program for Filipino farmers has been filed in the Senate.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto, in Senate Bill No. 1074, proposed to create the Pantawid Magsasakang Pilipino Program as a national strategy to address rural poverty.

“These interventions are sought in cognizance of the short-term obligation to mitigate the abrupt reduction of farmer incomes caused by the rescission of quantitative rice import restrictions,” Mr. Recto said in the explanatory note.

The program will cover farmers or rice farming households classified as poor or near-poor by the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Conditions for remaining beneficiaries include continued palay production, and the use of inbred palay seeds to be developed, bred, registered, certified and distributed by the Philippine Rice Research Institute, among others.

The funding will come from revenue in excess of the P10 billion generated for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which is authorized to receive funding from import tariffs under the Rice Tariffication law or Republic Act 11203. RCEF is entitled to P10 billion a year for six years from tariffs.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar announced on Oct. 18 that the government is setting aside P3 billion from rice import tariffs. The Department plans to provide P5,000 worth of cash assistance to 600,000 farmers.

In a separate development, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said on Oct. 23 that the cash assistance program will prioritize farmers “most affected” by the Rice Tariffication Law.

The cash transfer bill requires all qualified beneficiaries to be covered by the Rice Insurance Program of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp., subsidized by the national government. — Charmaine A. Tadalan