HoR Approved HB 6923

The House of Representatives approved on 2nd reading the sponsored bill of Coop-Natcco Party list, HB 6923 or the Revised Charter of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation. This bill increased the capital stock of PCIC to P10-Billion and also expanded the coverage of crop insurance.

Below is the sponsorship speech that Rep. Anthony Bravo delivered in the plenary:

Madam Speaker, distinguished colleagues, good afternoon.

It is my honor and privilege to sponsor House Bill No. 6923 under Committee Report No. 564 entitled An Act Strengthening the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), Repealing for the Purpose Presidential Decree No. 1467, entitled “Creating the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation” Prescribing its Powers and Activities, Providing for its Capitalization and for other Purposes,’ As Amended by Presidential Decree No. 1733 and Republic Act No. 8175”

This bill is not only favorable to the Filipino farmers but to the country as a whole as crop insurance is one major component of ensuring food security.

The impact of climate change is glaring. In the previous years, we have witnessed several catastrophic typhoons, floods, and droughts that left billions of damages to agriculture and fishery sectors.

In 2016, Typhoon Nina alone has left an estimated P4.1-B production losses according to the Department of Agriculture. These losses affected the production of rice, corn and high-value crops, including vegetables and fruit trees, that cover a total of around 80,000 hectares of farmlands in the Bicol Region.

Last December, Typhoon Urduja ravaged our country and DA initially reported that damages and losses to the agriculture sector had reached P1-Billion affecting 38,466 farmers and 38,973 hectares of agricultural areas in Bicol, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas and CARAGA.

The farmers are always at the losing end for every catastrophe, Madam Speaker. Often, our farmers are buried in debt as they had to borrow money to pay for the seeds, fertilizers and other inputs of production, sans projected harvest and income.

Sa madaling salita, vulnerable ang ating mga magsasaka sa pagkalugi. Ito marahil ang isa sa mga dahilan kung bakit nananatiling poorest sector ang mga magsasaka at mangingisda.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that farmers and fishermen remained the poorest of the poor, with poverty incidence recorded at 34.3 percent and 34 percent, respectively.

That is why we have to insulate our farmers and fisherfolk from financial losses. We need to ensure their financial stability so they could continue their agricultural production. We all know that a vibrant and thriving agriculture sector has major impact to economy and to the Filipino people.

One highlight of this bill is the expansion of insurance coverage. HB 6923 expands the types of crops that can be insured. From RICE only, we are proposing to include CORN, HIGH VALUE CROPS, LIVESTOCK, AQUACULTURE and FISHERY, AGROFORESTRY and FOREST PLANTATIONS.

To strengthen the financial and organizational capacity of the PCIC, we proposed that the capital stock of the agency be increased from P2-B to P10-Billion. This will allow the agency to cover more beneficiaries and to implement its programs well.

By strengthening the PCIC, this proposed measure also authorizes the agency to do the following:

1. To extend life and accident insurance coverage for farmers and fisherfolk

2. To ensure properties and facilities of the government used in agri-fishery-forestry projects

3. To offer Weather Index Based Insurance, specifically for excessive or insufficient rainfall

4. To offer crop insurance to encourage private commercial banks to sell crop insurance.

Madam Speaker, given these notable provisions, we are more than happy to present these proposed measure that addresses the present predicament of our farmers, the threat the food security, and the limitations to the institutional capacity of the PCIC.

Let us give our farmers a safety net that they deserve so we would have a food secure country and an empowered agriculture sector.

In summary, HB 6923 or the Revised Charter of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation is crafted to ensure food security, alleviate the financial burden of farmers and strengthen the PCIC itself.

Madam Speaker, honorable members of this august chamber, let us pass this very important legislation.

Thank you very much.