November 25, 2020
Transcript of co-sponsorship speech of Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Senate Bill 1927, or Cash Assistance for Filipino Farmers Act of 2020
“Thank you, madam chairperson. May we just manifest our support for this measure. May we be also allowed to manifest that during the committee hearings of the Senate Committee on Finance, this matter was discussed by this representation together with the chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, and I believe, Senator Marcos as well, and we all agreed that the cash assistance is urgently needed by our farmers precisely because of the drop in palay prices prior to the typhoons and then after which the typhoons, the three successive typhoons have hit our agriculture sector severely, causing billions of pesos in damage.
“I recall, Mang Romeo. He was a rice farmer from San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija. I’ve met him a couple of years ago and tinanong ko sa kanya ilang taon na siya and Mang Romeo was 73 years old at nagsasaka pa rin bilang rice farmer. Dahil rice farmers association yung aming pagpupulong, tinanong ko kay Mang Romeo ano’ng edad niya noong nag-umpisa siyang magsaka sa palayan at sinabi po niya ay 12 years old siya noong nag-umpisa siyang magsaka. Ibig sabihin, anim na dekada nagsasaka si Mang Romeo, pinapakain ang ating mga kababayan ngunit nagsasaka pa rin. Dapat sana siya ay retired [pero] mahirap pa rin. Hindi ito makatarungan, hindi ito tama. Kung sino pa ang nagpapakain sa atin, siya naman ang ginugutom. Dapat ayusin ito, dapat maituwid itong hindi makatarungang sitwasyon ng ating mga magsasaka.
Sabi nga ng anak kong si Frankie noong 9 years old siya, siguro narinig niya akong nagsasalita sa isang interview, ang sabi niya, ‘We should treat our farmers like our parents because they’re the ones who feed us.’
With this measure Mr. President, we are providing support, the much needed support, for our farmers who are continuing to struggle and yet continuing to feed us as a nation. Thank you and we would like to request our colleagues for a swift passage of this measure. Maraming salamat and magandang hapon sa inyong lahat.”
“Just very quickly with respect to the manifestation and inquiry and question of Senator Recto. The law as it stand says, we must enact a law if we are to choose direct cash assistance and so this would be a (inaudible). And number 2, this law will now take effect, will be effective until 2024 and therefore, next year and the succeeding years, it would be direct cash assistance that will be provided for our farmers. This is also consistent with a recommendation of the Philippine Institution of Development Studies that says direct cash assistance would benefit the farmers more in a given timetable of five years, in fact. It was what the PIDS study provided. This is consistent also with that study to provide the necessary cash assistance for our farmers. For the information of Senator Recto and our colleagues.”