By Zaldy De Layola
MANILA – Municipal fisherfolk will receive a monthly fuel subsidy of not less than PHP1,000 under House Bill No. 8007 or the “Pantawid Pambangka Act of 2023”.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) will administer the monthly subsidy program, with the amount subject to revision yearly to account for inflation.
“Despite the fishing sector’s major contribution, our fishermen continue to be among the fundamental sectors’ poorest people. Hindi po makatarungan na kung sino pa ang producer ng pagkain, sila pa ang napapabayaan at pinaka-naghihirap (It is not fair that they produce food but they are neglected and suffering the most,” AGRI Partylist Rep. Wilbert Lee, the bill author, said in a news release on Sunday.
The beneficiaries of the bill shall be municipal fisherfolk within municipal waters, whether coastal or inland, and who use motorized fishing vessels of three gross tons or less provided they are registered under BFAR’s National Program for Municipal Fisherfolk Registration.
If passed into law, beneficiaries of the program will be automatically covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.
The Social Security System shall also provide microinsurance mechanisms to beneficiaries.
The equivalent of 10 percent of any increase in the collections in the excise tax on fuel shall be earmarked for the implementation for this Act, which shall be indicated as a separate line item under the annual appropriations of the DA under the General Appropriations Act.
According to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the municipal and aquaculture sub-sectors contributed 73 percent to the total production of the fisheries sector from 2011 to 2020.
Based on the preliminary estimates of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s 2021 poverty data, fisherfolk registered the highest poverty incidence rate of 30.6 percent, higher than the 26.2 percent recorded in 2018.
“We are not only showing the importance of their valuable contribution, this (subsidy) could also enhance their production which is beneficial also to the consumers,” Lee said. (PNA)