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Senator asks NFA to use rice subsidy for palay buying

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Senator Imee Marcos filed a resolution asking government agencies to use the P37 billion under the rice subsidy program to buy palay from local farmers.

In a statement, Marcos said she filed Senate Joint Resolution No. 4, which urges the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of National Defense, Department of Transportation, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in coordination with the National Food Authority (NFA) and the Department of Agriculture, to directly buy palay (unhusked rice) from local farmers.

"Despite the efforts made by the government to protect the local rice industry, large stocks of imported rice have depressed the buying price of local palay to levels way below the cost production," Marcos said in the resolution.

Marcos said the government can use the allocation of PHP33.9 billion for rice subsidies in the 2019 General Appropriations Act, the largest of which is given to the beneficiaries of the DSWD under the "Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

She added that the remaining allocations of PHP2.89 billion for the rice subsidy programs of military uniformed personnel, such as the provision of twenty kilos of rice per month, in the form of financial assistance, to the uniformed personnel of the Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force, Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and the Bureau of Fire Protection can also be utilized.

The senator also noted that President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the NFA to expend their budget of PHP7 billion for procuring palay from local farmers to provide immediate support and assistance to the local rice industry.

She stressed the need to give assistance to two million farmers suffering due to the drop in farm gate prices of palay after nearly four million bags of rice flooded the Philippine markets.

"Dapat ngayon ang presyo ng palay ay mataas na at mamili na ang NFA dahil ang fear natin na matambakan tayo ng lokal na bigas habang papasok na ang anihan(harvest season) next week, yari tayo (The NFA should immediately increase the buying price for palay and start purchasing it from local farmers. Our fear is that we might be flooded with local rice once harvest season starts next week)," Marcos said.

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