THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) should distribute the fuel subsidy for farmers and fishermen through direct cash assistance instead of discount cards, a party-list group said Tuesday.
“How could it be a subsidy when it will only be in a form of discount dispensed to a small portion of the total registered fisherfolk and farmers in the country?” Anakpawis President Ariel Casilao said in a statement.
“This brings nothing substantial to the distressed rural sectors because what they need is a full fuel subsidy in a form of direct cash assistance.”
He said that only 5% of the 1.7 million registered fisherfolk will be able to benefit from the P500-million fuel subsidy provided by the DA.
Anakpawis, which does not have a seat in the current Congress but is running in the May elections, also said they are pushing for a huge rollback of oil prices until they become more affordable.
“The rollback this week should correspond with the total oil price hikes this year,” Mr. Casilao said. “Local pump prices have dramatically increased by P20-P30 per liter, then the rollback should be as much.”
The passage of House Bill (HB) No. 9192, which seeks to abolish the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and divert its funds to granting production subsidies to workers in the agricultural and fisheries sector, is also being pushed by Anakpawis.
Members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives who authored the bill said in their explanatory note that the NTF-ELCAC has lost its mandated function and that it “threatens the pillars of human security.”
“Thus, it has no moral ground to be allotted with a vast amount of public resources, and this should be shifted to a productive endeavor such as providing the 1 million small fisherfolk and fish workers with P15,000,” Makabayan lawmakers said.
Gabriela Rep. Arlene D. Brosas, one of the principal authors of the bill, said that they will refile the bill if they win seats in the 19th Congress.
“Yes, definitely we will file the HB 9192…There was no committee hearing done during the 18th Congress, so we hope there will be a movement on the next Congress about this bill,” Ms. Brosas said in a Viber message. — Jaspearl Emerald G. Tan