President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. ordered the Department of Agriculture (DA) to utilize the excess collections of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) to assist rice farmers. In a statement on Sunday, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), citing the President's recent meeting with DA officials, said the RCEF excess collection beyond the PHP10 billion requirement should be used to provide drying, mechanization, and other equipment support to rice farmers to sustain their productivity. Republic Act (RA) 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Act states that revenues collected from rice tariffs should pay for the yearly requirement of PHP10 billion for the RCEF. The amount will be used to fund programs and projects that will raise the competitiveness and output of palay (unhusked rice) farmers. RA 11203 replaces the quantitative restriction on rice importation with a purely tariff system. During the meeting, President Marcos also ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government to enjoin all local government units (LGUs) to rationalize the pass-through fees and other transport costs imposed on motor vehicles transporting goods like rice and other products, according to the PCO. Executive Order No. 41, issued by President Marcos on Sept. 25, prohibits LGUs from collecting toll fees and charges from all vehicles transporting goods or merchandise while passing through national roads and other thoroughfares not constructed or funded by them. The move aims to reduce transport and logistics costs. To further help farmers, President Marcos also recently approved the release of PHP12.7 billion assistance to rice farmers. The amount will be distributed to 2.3 million small rice farmers who will each receive PHP5,000 under the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance program of the government. The financial assistance is part of the government's efforts to support small rice farmers who will be affected by the lifting of the price cap on rice. 'Ang pagtanggal ng price cap na 'yan ay hindi basta-basta natin ginawa. Mayroon ring kasama na pagtulong ulit, pagpapatibay at pagpaganda ng ating (The removal of that price cap was not something we did lightly. It also includes helping again and strengthening our) agricultural sector,' Marcos said. 'Lalakihan natin ang galing sa Rice Tariffication law at ibibigay natin sa ating mga farmer sa pamamagitan ng mga equipment, mga tractor, mga harvester, mga dryer (Let us increase [the fund from] the Rice Tariffication Law and give this to our farmers through equipment, tractor, harvester, dryer),' he said.
Source: Philippines News Agency