Source : GMA News (
Article by : Dona Magsino
Article Date : October 19, 2020

All rice import tariffs to be collected in excess of the P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) until 2025 shall go directly to small farmers as cash assistance, Senator Cynthia Villar said Monday.

“We decided na that it should be given as financial assistance to the rice farmers owning one hectare and below for the rest of the term of RCEF which is until 2025,” Villar said during the Senate hearing on the proposed P86.3 billion budget of the Department of Agriculture and its attached agencies.

“Kasi palagi na lang bagsak ang presyo ng palay. We want to soften the blow to the poor rice farmers especially those owning one hectare and below,” added Villar, chairperson of the Senate agriculture committee.

The senator made the manifestation after learning that the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation allocated P1 billion from the RCEF surplus to its proposed budget for 2021.

“No, no, no. You have no right to get it. It should be passed by Congress. And we have filed a resolution that we will use it for assistance for rice farmers. You cannot touch that kasi according to the law, we decide what to do with the excess tariff,” Villar said.

On Friday, the Senate committee on agriculture approved a joint resolution seeking to distribute direct cash aid to Filipino rice farmers using the surplus from the RCEF.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar expressed full support to the resolution and said there are about 1.1 million rice farmers who till only one hectare of land and below.

Under the Rice Tariffication Law, which was signed in February 2019, the government should earmark P10 billion annually for the RCEF for a period of six years following the approval of the measure.

From the annual RCEF, P5 billion shall be allocated to rice farm machinery and equipment; P3 billion for rice seeds; P1 billion for expanded credit assistance; and P1 billion for rice extension services such as training for farmers.