The House of Representatives, voting 197-0, has approved on third and final reading House Bill 6686, which seeks to provide quick financial assistance to affected agrarian reform beneficiaries in the event of natural calamities to make their losses more bearable.
The bill grants full insurance coverage to all qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), by amending for the purpose Section 14 of Republic Act No. 9700, otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension With Reforms.”
It aims to mitigate the effects of natural calamities by providing crop insurance to qualified farmers.
It seeks to amend RA 9700 so that full insurance coverage shall be provided to all qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries as defined in RA 10000 or the “Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act” and who are actually tilling the land and capitalizing on crops as certified by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
Full crop insurance coverage shall be granted to farmer-beneficiaries whose losses include those resulting from natural calamities such as typhoon, flood, drought, earthquake, volcanic eruption, frost and other destructive natural phenomena such as heat and hot wind.
Likewise, full crop insurance coverage shall also be provided to all qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries whose crops are destroyed due to plant diseases caused by pathogens, bacteria, fungi, viruses, virus-like pathogens, and other similar foreign bodies.
Compensable losses include as well pest infestation caused by nematodes, symphylans, slugs and snails, sow bugs and pillbugs, parasitic higher plants and other parasites and loss of life and/or injury to the qualified agrarian reform beneficiary due to accident or any of the aforementioned causes.
Crops that are covered by full insurance are palay, corn, sugarcane, high value crops as defined in Section 4(b) of RA 7900 also known as the “High-Value Crops Development Act of 1995”, coconut, tobacco; aquaculture, livestock; and non-crop agricultural assets.
The measure mandates the DAR, in coordination with the Landbank of the Philippines, to submit to the Department of Agriculture (DA) within 30 days from the effectivity of the Act the complete list of qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries and leaseholders to be included in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), their respective locations and size of landholdings.
The bill mandates the DA and DAR Secretaries to immediately include in their departments’ programs the operationalization of the Act and the initial funding shall be charged against the allocated funds by the General Appropriations Act (GAA) to the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) for the RSBSA.
The 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 bill also mandates the creation of a Congressional Oversight Committee on Full Insurance Coverage to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (COCFICARB) to monitor the implementation of the Act.