A party-list lawmaker representing the agriculture sector urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to reconsider its decision to deny the Department of Agriculture’s appeal for a spending ban exemption on the fuel subsidy for farmers and fisherfolk nationwide amid the increasing oil prices exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Magsasaka Representative Argel Cabatbat said the P500-million subsidy from the DA in the form of fuel discount cards would provide targeted assistance to affected sectors and would stand to benefit around 160,000 farmers and fishers.
“Higit 160,000 farmers at fisherfolk ang makakatanggap ng diskwento sa krudo na halagang P3,000.”
“May P500 sanang nakalaan na financial assistance sa porma ng discount card para sa manggagawa ng agrikultura. Higit 160,000 farmers at fisherfolk ang makakatanggap ng diskwento sa krudo na halagang P3,000,” Cabatbat said.
The legislator, however, lauded Comelec’s decision allowing the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board to continue its distribution of fuel subsidies for public utility vehicle drivers and operators amid an election spending ban.
“Dapat may exemption din ang DA, dahil kailangang umabot na ang tulong na ito sa farmers at fisherfolk na luging-lugi na.”
“Ano ba ang pagkakaiba ng driver, magsasaka at mangingisda? Pare-pareho lang naman silang nagdurusa sa pagtaas ng presyo ng petrolyo at bilihin, hindi ba? Dapat may exemption din ang DA, dahil kailangang umabot na ang tulong na ito sa farmers at fisherfolk na luging-lugi na,” the lawmaker said.
The DA issued a Memorandum Circular No. 7, series of 2022, dated March 7, 2022 on the implementing guidelines on the provision of fuel discounts to farmers and fisherfolk and allocated P500 million.
The fuel discount shall be primarily for all machineries used in corn production from land preparation to postharvest activities as well as motorized boats for fishing operations.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar appealed to Comelec to exempt its fuel subsidy releases for farmers and fishermen, noting that a month-long ban would deny them the necessary government assistance to aid them from the soaring prices.
“One month is long enough to deny our interventions to be given to the farmers. [Our interventions] do not have [political] colors,” Dar said in an interview.