By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Francis Pangilinan on Saturday called for the immediate implementation of the Sagip Saka Law (Republic Act No. 11321) to help the farmers adversely affected by the influx of imported rice.
Pangilinan issued the appeal as he cited statements from farmers’ groups predicting a decline in the willingness of Filipino rice farmers to plant because of the continuous plunge of palay prices following the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law.
Adding to this were the usual woes the farmers in irrigation and subsidy, as well as the worsening effects of climate change.
With less farmers planting, the groups warned of less production of the staple.
“There is no doubt that the Rice Tariffication Act has something to do with this. Government’s own data and the scenes at the farm lands are staring us in the face that this law has wrought havoc on the farmers’ lives and the economy,” Pangilinan said in a statement amid the start of the planting season this year.
“A faster and effective implementation of Republic Act 11321 or the Sagip Saka Act will bring direct benefits to farmers and fisherfolk, and encourage them to continue feeding us,” he appealed.
The opposition lawmaker was the prinicipal author and proponent of the Sagip Saka Act, which institutionalizes a Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Program.
The law was signed by President Duterte in April last year, while its implementing rules and regulations were signed in October.
The program was intended to help farmers and fisherfolk make a decent living by providing assistance such as agricultural extension services, skills development, provision of production inputs, equipment and facilities; and infrastructure for production and post-production activities.
It also includes access to credit grants, crop insurance, and new technologies and access to markets
“It’s time that they feel its tangible results,” Pangilinan said.
The Rice Tariffication Law, or the Republic Act No. 11203, was signed into in February 2019 following the crisis on the local rice supply. It allows the unimpeded importation of rice in exchange of tariffs.
In his speech in Pigcawayan, Cotabato on Friday, President Duterte, appealed to farmers to give the Rice Tariffication Law a chance as he maintained that it will be beneficial to them in the long run.
“To our dear farmers, let me take this opportunity to encourage you to give the Rice Tariffication Law a chance. Let me assure you that in the long run, this measure will not only help strengthen our economy, but also provide new opportunities for your sector,” Duterte said.