A group of farmers expressed disappointment and fear over the decision of the Duterte Administration to transfer the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) from the Department of Agriculture (DA) to the Department of Finance (DOF).

In a statement, the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) said on Thursday the move was “inexplicable and furtively done.”

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“Under the DoF, the priority will shift to fiscal and monetary concerns which may not necessarily be supportive of the needs of farmers and the DA,” said FFF National Manager Raul Montemayor.

To recall, President Rodrigo Duterte signed on September 14, 2021 the Executive Order (EO) 148, effectively placing the PCIC under the supervision of DOF. In the said EO, the President said this is to ensure that government assets and resources are used effectively.

As a result of the EO, the PCIC Board was reorganized, designating the DOF Secretary as the Board Chairperson and adding the General Manager of the Government Service Insurance Corporation (GSIS) to the Board.

As a result, the three Board seats previously allotted by the PCIC Charter (RA 8175) to farmer representatives were reduced to only one, a move farmers as illegal.

The FFF argued that the crop insurance is a critical component of the DA’s food production programs. It provides compensation for farmers whose crops are damaged by typhoons and other natural calamities, or whose farm animals die due to diseases like the African Swine Fever (ASF).

“Without crop insurance, banks will find it too risky to lend to farmers, and farmers will find it very difficult to pay their loans, much less recover from calamities. It is therefore very important that the coverage and services of the program are synchronized with the plans and strategies of the DA,” Montemayor said.

Meanwhile, the FFF also scored the lack of consultation with farmers and other stakeholders on the PCIC transfer despite clear provisions in the Magna Carta for Small Farmers (RA 7607).

Even the DA itself, which the EO says was among those who recommended the transfer, did not inform, much less consult, its constituents, the group argued.

“We recognize that the bureaucracy may need to be reorganized and streamlined from time to time. However, this should be done with proper consultation with affected stakeholders and also the legislators who crafted the charter of the GOCC [Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations] involved. Otherwise, the Executive can easily subvert the original purpose for which the GOCC was created,” said Montemayor.

The FFF urged Congress to revisit Republic Act 10149, or the GOCC Governance Act of 2011 which was invoked under EO 148 as the basis for transferring PCIC to the DOF. Section 5 of the Act authorizes the President to reorganize GOCCs like the PCIC upon the recommendation of the Governance Commission for GOCCs.

Montemayor noted that the same law was invoked in transferring the National Irrigation Authority (NIA), and for a time, the National Food Authority (NFA), to the Office of the President even though these GOCCs are clearly more related to the DA’s functions.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/09/16/farmers-wary-over-pcic-transfer-to-dof/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=farmers-wary-over-pcic-transfer-to-dof)