House commits to pass P66-B stimulus package for agriculture

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

July 28, 2020, 5:47 pm

MANILA – The House of Representatives on Tuesday adopted a resolution expressing its commitment to enact the proposed PHP66-billion supplemental budget of the Department of Agriculture to support its programs in addressing the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

During plenary session, the lower chamber adopted House Resolution No. 925 as a pledge to pass the budget for the stimulus package to the agriculture sector to ensure food security, food supply, availability, and price stability.

"As part of its commitment and resolve to help in the efforts to alleviate the condition of every Filipino affected by the enhanced community quarantine and variants thereof, during these difficult times, the House of Representatives pledges to pass the proposed supplemental budget of the Department of Agriculture to address the urgent need of ensuring the country's food and nutrition security, and for the sector to contribute to the country's faster economic recovery," the resolution read.

In his fifth State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte highlighted the major role of the agriculture sector in propelling the country’s economy amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The growth of our economy depends on a robust agricultural sector,” Duterte said.

He cited the PHP66-billion stimulus package — dubbed as "Plant, Plant, Plant" Program — proposed by the Department of Agriculture to both the Senate and the House of Representatives to help the country’s agriculture and fishery sector recover from the economic slowdown due to the pandemic.

“We aim to provide adequate, accessible, and affordable food for every Filipino through the Plant, Plant, Plant Program,” Duterte said.

The stimulus package funds the following initiatives: PHP31 billion for the Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) Kontra sa Covid-19 Program to raise agricultural productivity while ensuring food sufficiency through rice buffer stocking, steady food supply, and stable prices; PHP20 billion for the Food Logistics Plan to make sure that agricultural commodities are accessible and affordable; and PHP15 billion for the Cash for Work Program to assist landless farmers and displaced workers.

For his part, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said he hopes Congress will approve the P66-B agriculture sector stimulus package as part of the ‘Bayanihan to Recover as One Act’ or Bayanihan Part 2. This is on top of the regular 2020 DA budget.

“The Plant, Plant, Plant program does not only cover rice, corn, and major commercial crops, but also livestock, fisheries, and other agri-fishery related commodities and interventions — to attain food security and increase the incomes of farmers, fishers and agripreneurs,” said Dar. (PNA)