De Lima files bill to provide cash grant to farmers, fishermen


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a measure seeking to provide direct cash assistance to small-scale farmers and municipal fisherfolk whose livelihoods have been most severely impacted by the prolonged lockdowns and economic recession brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

De Lima, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 2100 establishing a COVID-19 emergency cash grant to small-scale farmers and municipal fisherfolk living below the poverty line.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has not only severely impacted our public health, but has also debilitated many industries and has caused our economy to go into recession. Among the worst hit economic sectors are those of the farming and fishing industries, particularly small-scale farmers and municipal fisherfolk,” she said.

Even before the spread of the pandemic, De Lima said the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) had already reported that both farmers and fishermen consistently ranked as two of the most impoverished sectors in society.

In 2018, farmers and fisherfolk registered the highest poverty incidence rates among the basic sectors at 31.6 and 26.2 percent, respectively.

In filing the measure, De Lima stressed that the poor living condition of farmers and fishermen has been exacerbated by the pandemic considering that stringent health protocols and quarantine measures were put in place which put a grinding halt to their livelihood.

“Fishing communities bore the brunt of lockdowns. Processing companies have slowed down and prices dropped – but life went on for fishermen whose daily survival depended on the sea,” she said.

“The pandemic also brought hard times to farmers who were still reeling from the onslaught of typhoons, as strict quarantine guidelines have made the farmers’ movements more controlled. Many of them were left to watch their hard grown harvest to rot since the lockdowns and health requirements prevented them from travelling to markets to sell their produce,” she added.

Under SB No. 2100, all households of small-scale farmers and municipal fisherfolk registered before the Department of Agriculture within their respective districts or provinces, whose primary means of earning livelihood have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19, pandemic shall be entitled to a cash grant of ₱1,000.00 per month for a period of one year.

“Only one beneficiary shall be eligible for households with several small-scale farmers or municipal fisherfolk living under one roof,” De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, stated.

“Marami sa mga kababayan natin ang lalong pinadapa at pinabigat ang mga pasanin sa buhay dahil sa pandemya, kaya hindi katanggap-tanggap na sabihing ‘maliit na bagay’ lang ang ating pinagdadaanan. Imbes na makatulong, ipinapakita lang ng gobyerno ang pagiging manhid at kawalan ng malasakit, lalo na sa pinaka-nangangailangan,” said the lady Senator from Bicol.

De Lima further explained that small-scale farmers and municipal fisherfolk who are receiving conditional cash transfer or recipients of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) Act from the government shall not be entitled to receive the emergency cash grant while they are receiving such conditional cash transfer. (30)

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