Arroyo bats for expanded benefits for sugar farmers

July 28, 2019
Teresa D. Ellera (SunStar Bacolod) |

FIFTH District Rep. Ma. Lourdes “Marilou” Arroyo is pushing for expanded benefits for sugar farmers as she sought for the amendment of the Social Amelioration Law.

"Almost 62,000 sugar farmers will soon have access to education, health, and medical benefits once House Bill 2272" is approved, Arroyo said.

HB 2272, filed by Arroyo, seeks to amend Republic Act 6982 also known as the Social Amelioration Law by modifying provisions to expand the benefits to sugar farmers.

The law currently provides death and maternity benefits as well as some socio-economic projects.

Under the proposed amended provisions of the bill filed by Arroyo, half of the 20 percent allotted for socio-economic plans from the gross production of sugar will be allocated for health, medical, and educational benefits not limited to formal education but may also cover technical skills training programs duly accredited by Tesda.

The lawmaker urged her colleagues to help her pass the bill citing the need to modify provisions of the law that fail to address some basic needs of hardworking sugar farmers.

“There are a lot of changes that have happened in the span of 28 years since the passage of RA 6982, yet sugar farmers are still bound to the same limited benefits. The law must evolve to recognize and address some of the most vital needs of our sugar farmers in the present, while looking to the future, as well, so that we can provide our sugar farmers with the best possible support mechanisms that the law can help promulgate and institutionalize. Help me and join me in reciprocating their hard work by providing them with the best possible programs under the law that will secure much deserved benefits for the sugar farmers and their families, especially when it comes to the areas of health, medical needs, and education,” Arroyo said.

The sugar industry in the Philippines contributes P70 billion to the economy. In the last quarter of 2018, it contributed to 3.09 percent of the total value of agricultural exports.

“Sugar farmers are key partners in the Philippine sugar industry. They play a vital role in our economy and nation building. This bill is my way of recognizing their years of hard work in building and continuing the vital work needed to sustain the sugar industry, particularly in the Western Visayas – the area where sugar planters and sugar farmers remain as the main producers of sugarcane, “ Arroyo ended.