Manila, Philippines – The Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women joined the demand of millions of peasant and fisherfolk families to the Duterte regime for financial assistance of P10,000, as alleviation from the impact of the lockdown in Luzon and parts of the country as response to the COVID-19 epidemic. The demand was part of the Ibon Foundation’s recommendation on the utilization of P297 billion budget for the Republic Act 11469 Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020. For the total 9.7 million farmers and fisherfolk on the government’s registry, it will amount to P97 billion.

“Peasant and rural-based families are in dire need for financial assistance. Their families’ monthly cost of living reaches to around P15 to P21,000. The present situation is worse, as due to lockdowns, bankruptcy among them are widespread. If this remains unaddressed, we will certainly face a chronic food crisis,’ Zenaida Soriano, Amihan National Chairperson said in a press statement.

Based on Amihan’s reasearch in Cagayan, Rizal and Cavite provinces, the daily cost of living of peasant and fisherfolk families during this lockdown ranges from P478 to P700, which includes 2 kilos of rice, fish, vegetables, condiments, coffee, sugar and others.  The group excluded the costs for allowance for schooling children, medicines and other needs.

“On top of the financial assistance, we reiterate our call for the local governments to urgently and directly procure agricultural products from farmers and fisherfolk, to secure adequate food supply, relief for poor families and avoid wastage, such as the case of vegetables from the northern provinces being disposed due to absence of buyers,” she said.

She also renewed their call for the National Food Authority’s (NFA) massive procurement of local palay from rice farmers at at least P20 per kilo farm gate price. The agency only procured around 750,000 metric tons of the 18.8 million metric tons of palay produced last year.

“The base sectors of our society and economy are at the countryside, thus, it is where support and subsidy should be infused. If the rural-based sectors fall into deep poverty and hunger, it will domino-impact the whole country and sufficiency food supply will be threatened,” she ended. ###

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