By Sandra Cabangon

Pursuant to the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) announcement on the accommodation of new recipients of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), AGRI Party-list Representative Wilbert Lee has urged the agency to prioritize farmers and fishermen as eligible beneficiaries.

Photo Courtesy of Manila Bulletin/Interaksyon

"Serious attention should be given by the government to our farmers and fisherfolk now. We must concretely acknowledge their fundamental role in our economy, address their plight and give proper value to their contributions through tangible and impactful assistance to their children and households," Lee said.

On July 20, DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo said that 1.3 million Filipino households are no longer qualified to receive cash grants from the government, which leaves ₱15 billion for the new beneficiaries of the program.

Meanwhile, the party-list representative filed House Resolution (HR) No. 89 on July 27 which states that the available slots will be given to the poorest and most neglected sector — the farmers and fisherfolks — as long as they meet the criteria in the 4Ps Act.

“Although the figures reported by the DSWD are still in the process of final validation, the cash assistance and slots for those who ‘graduated’ from the program, and are not considered extremely poor anymore, must be given to the poorest and most neglected sector and population—the farmers and fisherfolks, as long as they qualify with the criteria set forth in the 4Ps Act,” Lee said.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), agricultural laborers had the highest poverty incidence among the basic sectors in 2018 and are only being paid P331.10 daily on average.

“Sunod-sunod ang kalbaryong dinadanas ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda—mula sa mababang kita, pagkasira ng ani o kawalan ng huli dahil sa kalamidad, mataas na gastos sa farm input at pagtaas ng presyo ng mga bilihin, pati na ang mga dagdag na pasaning dulot ng pandemya. Napakalaking tulong na maibigay sa kanila ang karampatang mga benepisyo, hindi lang para makabangon, kundi upang tuluyang maiangat ang kanilang pamumuhay,” the congressman added.

Edited by Annika Gorgeana Maningo