The House committee on appropriations chaired by Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles (1st District, Davao City) approved a substitute bill which seeks to grant full insurance coverage to all qualified Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
The committee approved the unnumbered substitute bill of House Bills 229 and 2177 authored by Deputy Speaker and Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson and Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto (6th District, Batangas), respectively, after approving its funding provision.
The funding provision mandates the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to include in their agencies’ programs the needed operational requirement of the Act. The initial funding of the Act shall be charged against the allocated funds by the General Appropriations Act (GAA) to the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) for the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA). Thereafter, projections of the premium requirement shall be submitted by the PCIC, the DA, and the DAR to the President, and shall be included in the annual GAA.
The House committee on agrarian reform chaired by Rep. Rene Relampagos (1st District, Bohol) endorsed the approval of the bill. He said the bill would provide ARBs with the much-needed insurance protection against compensable losses arising from natural calamities, plant diseases, and pest infestations of their crops.
Likewise, the measure will promote a positive impact on the lives of farmer beneficiaries and will ensure the efficiency of support services to be accorded by the DAR for the ARB sector, according to Relampagos.
“In this manner, it will take pressure off the ARBs in managing risks arising from the production of commodities, price variability and rise against poverty. The concerns of ARBs in situations beyond their control like the increasingly unpredictable weather patterns and adverse weather conditions brought about by the intensifying climate change and weather uncertainties will be addressed accordingly,” said Relampagos.
The lawmaker said the bill would strongly complement the agricultural insurance for ARBs participating in the agrarian reform production credit program and the credit assistance programs for program beneficiaries development in the financing programs implemented by the DA, DAR, Land Bank which cover all the regular insurance as implemented by the PCIC.
The bill seeks to amend Section 37 of Republic Act No. 6657, as amended, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL), so that “The State shall adopt the integrated policy of support services to all ARBs. To this end, the DAR, the Department of Finance (DoF) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) shall institute reforms to liberalize access to credit by agrarian reform beneficiaries. The Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) shall ensure that support services for ARBs.”
The support services to ARBs shall also include full insurance coverage to all qualified ARBs as defined in RA 1000, otherwise known as the “Agri Agra Law,” who are actually tilling the land and capitalizing on crops as certified by the DAR.
Compensable losses include natural calamities such as typhoon, flood, drought, earthquake, volcanic eruption, frost, and other destructive natural phenomena such as heat and hot wind; plant diseases caused by pathogens, bacteria, fungi, viruses, virus-like pathogens and other similar foreign bodies; pest infestations caused by nematodes, insects, mites and spiders, millipedes and centipedes, symphylans, slugs and snails, sow bugs and pillbugs, parasitic higher plants, and other parasites; and loss of life and/or injury to the qualified ARB due to accident or to any of the aforementioned causes.
The following crops are covered by this section: palay; corn; sugarcane; high-value crops as defined in Section 4 (b) of RA No. 9700, otherwise known as the “High-Value Crops Development Act of 1995,” coconut; tobacco; aquaculture; livestock; and non-crop agricultural assets.