Press Release
August 15, 2018

Transcript of interview with Sen. Cynthia Villar on weather-based crop insurance, rice tariffication

Q: On free index-based insurance

Villar: Iyong sa aming free index-based insurance, part of the source of premium that we will subsidize will come from the disaster fund. Instead of giving them disaster fund, we will provide them free insurance.

Q: Wala na iyong disaster fund?

Villar: Hindi naman. Kasi iyong disaster fund, it's for everybody. We are talking only of farmers so whatever na ia-allocate. Kaya gusto nga namin malaman kung ano ang budget needed or subsidy needed so we can see if we can get a portion of that from the disaster fund. Aral pa ito.

Q: Matagal pa?

Villar: Hindi naman. Kaya lang, this is the first time we are going to do this in the Philippines. Other countries have done this so I guess we have to do this also just like them. And it will take time so we are studying kung anong premium na sisingilin and how much of the premium we have to subsidize. Kasi ngayon, sinasabi nila meron silang ini-insure pero medyo hindi okay ang figure, parang mali.

Q: So nakikita nyo po parang this is the best solution at least to help our farmers?

Villar: Yes. And we have to study everything that can help them. We should not close our mind on anything. They are doing this in India, in Mexico, in Spain, and in other countries. We have to look and study how we can do it well in the Philippines.

Q: Do you have a timetable for this?

Villar: This year, before this Congress ends. But I don't think we should pass a law just for the sake of passing a law. We should pass a good law. Kaya if our knowledge is not good enough, we have to study more.

Q: Based sa mga narinig ninyo kanina, ano ang mga challenges at mechanisms na kailangan talagang pag-aralan?

Villar: First of course, if the government will give us a budget for this. And then another would be to educate the farmers about this insurance. That is very necessary also. And then, if we can get the cooperation of the private sector because right now it's being done by the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation, which is a government entity. Ako gusto kong papasukin ang private sector so it will be bigger in scope and if they compete, they will be better.

Q: Pero ang issue kung mabibigyan ng budget?

Villar: If we legislate it, and I think it's reasonable, then we legislate and we ask government to put a budget. Kasi kapag nilegislate mo na, they have no choice but to put a budget.

Q: Sa 2019 pa po ito?

Villar: Oo, kung mapasa namin ngayong 2018. Kasi ayoko namang ipasa kung pangit iyong law. Kasi kailangan well-studied din para naman successful tayo.

Q: On P10 billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund

Villar: P10 billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund every year until such time na iyong tariff on rice would come. Kasi syempre sasabihin nila ita-tariffy nila ang rice, kung walang tariff na ibigay sa amin, paano iyon? Kawawa ang rice farmer.

Q: How different are the versions of the Senate and the House on rice tariffication?

Villar: Mas simple yata ang sa kanila. Kasi ako pagpasa ko ng rice tariffication, kasama iyong Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund at nakalagay doon magkano ibibigay ng national government. In fact, I've cleared it with them that I will put it in the bill. Kasi I will not agree na mag-liberalize ang importation na walang tulong sa farmer kasi talo talaga tayo. Talo tayo ng Vietnam at Thailand in terms of competitiveness. So we have to help our farmers be competitive as soon as possible. That's why we need the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.

Q: How confident are you na ang version ninyo ang papasa?

Villar: Of course, bicameral tayo kapag hindi ako nag-agree, walang law. At saka na-clear ko na ito sa Department of Finance that that will be the content of the law. Kasi sinasabi sa akin na ipasa ko. Ipapasa ko if you give me the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund and you implement the National Single Window system para siguradong mata-tariffy ang rice, iko-computerize. Kasi ngayon ang daming rice smuggling.

Q: Can you comment on other proposals on tariff on meat and fish?

Villar: Hindi na yata nila itutuloy. Kasi alam mo iyong meat, I don't know the fish, parang itutuloy nila iyon bumababa ang production natin ng fish. But the meat, ano pa ita-tariffy when we studied the meat, there are two layers of tariffication, 35% for good meat, 5% for ofal. Lumipat naman lahat sa ofal, 5% na lang ano pa tatanggalin mo? So what's to change? Pareho na rin iyon halos wala.

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