Sen. Cynthia Villar listed down her priority legislative agenda for 17th Congress, and vowed to work for the passage of bills protecting the plight of farmers and fisherfolks, as well as the overseas Filipino workers.
"We used the break to consult with our constituents and visited areas here and abroad where we learned the best practices in agriculture. In drafting the content of our bills, we were guided by the results of these consultations and visits," Villar said.
The lady senator said she will prioritize the "Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act," or the bill which seeks to create a coconut levy trust fund for coconut farmers. Last Congress, Villar was able to sponsor the said bill under Committee Report No. 106 and it reached the period of amendments in the Senate plenary.
"It is our objective to make a law that will be sufficient to realize our collective goal of ensuring long-term benefits to the 3.5 million Filipino coconut farmers," Villar said.
Villar also said the law will address how cash assets worth P72 billion plus accrued interest will be invested. She will also make sure that there are transparency provisions on how the remaining non-cash assets worth approximately P30 billion will be sold.
The Nacionalista Party senator also vowed to pass within the year the bill granting a P2,000 across-the-board increase in the pension of 1.9 million Social Security System members. As chair of the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises, she worked for its passage by both houses of Congress but the President vetoed the bill.
She will also prioritize the creation of the department for OFWs, the Department of Migration and Development, which she believes is also supported by the new set of senators.
"We will make government transaction easier for OFWs by putting in one department the agencies that they need in securing permits and in availing assistance. We will also strengthen the repatriation and legal assistance program," she stressed. Villar said agriculture will remain a priority area for her as in the last Congress, where she principally authored and sponsored 16 enacted bills as chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food.
She authored Republic Act 10659 or the Sugar Industry Development Act; RA 10654 or the act to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; RA 10848 or the act extending the period of implementation of the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund up to year 2022; RA 10845 or the act declaring large-scale agricultural smuggling as economic sabotage; RA 10816 or the Farm Tourism Development Act; RA 10817 or the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Act; and ten local bills creating multi-specie marine hatchery/ nurseries and provincial training centers in 25 local government units located in 14 provinces.
Among the bills on agriculture which she intends to pass in the new Congress are:
1. Urban Agriculture Bill
2. Crop Protection Bill
3. Development of a Micro Insurance Program
4. Amendments to the National Food Authority Charter
5. Abolition of National Irrigation Authority fees
6. Sustainable Agriculture through rain water harvesting, composting and coconet production
7. Amendments to the Veterinary Medicine Law
8. Bill mandating local government units to allocate a percentage of their development fund to agriculture
9. The Native Animals Preservation Act
10. Creation of the National Ruminant Center (Center (integration of the National Dairy Program with the Philippine Carabao Center)
11. Amendments to the Livestock and Poultry Feeds Act.