As oil price hikes increase food production costs, Senator Kiko Pangilinan proposes that farmers and fisherfolk receive immediate cash assistance and fuel subsidies to keep food prices down.
“Pag mataas ang food production cost, mataas ang presyo ng pagkain. Kaya ngayong tumataas ang presyo ng langis, kailangang tulungan natin ang ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda sa pamamagitan ng ayuda at fuel subsidies tulad ng sa mga tsuper,” said the former food security secretary.
Citing the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag), Pangilinan said a bag of urea fertilizer, which cost P850 in October 2020, has more than doubled its price to P1,800 per bag in October 2021.
In its calculations, Sinag said palay production cost increased by P2.5 per kilo due to the urea price increase.
What used to be P15.5 per kilo production cost is now at P18 per kilo.
All these while traders are buying palay at only P11.5 per kilo in Rosales, Pangasinan.
“Hindi pwedeng malugi ang mga magsasaka natin dahil gutom ang aabutin nating lahat.”
“Sila ang nagbungkal, sila ang ang nagtanim, pero gutom. Hindi pwedeng malugi ang mga magsasaka natin dahil gutom ang aabutin nating lahat,” the veteran legislator stressed.
In a letter dated October 20, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar requested the Department of Energy to implement a petrol discount scheme for operators of food delivery trucks and vehicles, and small fishermen operating bancas.
The government already approved fuel subsidies for eligible public transportation vehicles to be distributed via the Pantawid Pasada Program System, allocating P1 billion for fuel subsidy for 178,000 public utility drivers.
The seasoned lawmaker expressed support for the fuel subsidies and encouraged the government to implement the same for the agriculture sector.
“Kapag naapektuhan ang agrikultura, maapektuhan din ang presyo ng mga produkto lalo na ng pagkain.”
“We support Secretary Dar and implore Secretary Cusi to also implement fuel subsidies for the agriculture sector. Malinaw na kapag naapektuhan ang agrikultura, maapektuhan din ang presyo ng mga produkto lalo na ng pagkain. Mas marami ang magugutom,” the senator said.
He also raised the possibility of implementing cash-for-work programs under the DA to provide additional income for farmers and fisherfolk while awaiting possible cash and fuel subsidies.
Pangilinan is co-author and co-sponsor of the Cash Assistance for Filipino Farmers Act of 2020, which seeks to collect excess tariffs from rice importation that will be converted as cash assistance to farmers and fisherfolk.