The two-year delay in the issuance of guidelines for the full implementation of Sagip Saka Act of 2019 has left hanging farmers and fisherfolk who should benefit from the over P41 billion intended for direct food purchases in the 2021 national budget, Senator Kiko Pangilinan said.
“Maganda sanang stimulus o pantulak itong P41 billion para sa kabuhayan ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda, lalo na ngayong pandemya. Nakapaloob itong malaking halagang ito sa national budget ng 2021. Aandar at gugulong ang ekonomiya sa kanayunan ‘pag nagastos itong P41 billion para bilhin ang ani at huli ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda,” Pangilinan said.
“May pera na nakalaan para direktang makabili ang national agencies sa mga magsasaka pero nabibitin pa.”
“Kaya lang, matatapos na ang taon at wala pa ring IRR o implementing rules and regulations ng GPBB. May pera na nakalaan para direktang makabili ang national agencies sa mga magsasaka pero nabibitin pa,” the veteran legislator added, referring to the Government Procurement Policy Board.
Sagip Saka’s IRR provides that government agencies buying agricultural and fisheries products follow the procedures for negotiated procurement under the Government Procurement Reform Act or Republic Act 9184.
The Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) is mandated to review and amend its negotiated procurement guidelines to effectively implement and support Sagip Saka.
GPPB, however, is yet to release the draft procurement guidelines even though Sagip Saka’s IRR was signed two years ago or in October 2019.
At the Senate Committee on Finance hearing recently on the proposed DBM budget for 2022, the seasoned lawmaker questioned the delay in the approval of the guidelines needed for the implementation of a Sagip Saka provision mandating national and local government agencies to purchase directly from farmers and fisherfolk for feeding programs and the like.
“This is long overdue. This is supposed to be for 2021 purchases. And we’re already ending 2021.”
“We have been hammering for the approval of the rules and guidelines for direct purchases from farmers and fisherfolk… I hope they can explain. This is long overdue. This is supposed to be for 2021 purchases. And we’re already ending 2021,” he told the hearing.
“They have been explaining and until now they are still explaining. Really, there seems to be no sense of urgency. I hope that this is not deliberate. I hope this was not [a case of] foot-dragging,” Pangilinan added.
In July 2021, GPPB Executive Director Rowena Ruiz said that the GPPB guidelines were still being reviewed.
In August 2021, GPPB targeted the release of the draft guidelines on September.
Despite these commitments, GPPB has only submitted the draft to the members of the board last October 14.
“I have been very patient all throughout this year following this up with your office but apparently my patience has not [yielded] in any result at this time,” he said.
The GPBB committed to follow up with its members to facilitate submission of substantial comments.
The Senate Committee on Finance urges the GPBB to approve the procurement guidelines before the DBM budget moves to plenary in November.
“Sa pagkausap ko sa mga magsasaka natin, hindi naman sila humihingi ng abuloy. May dignidad ang ating mga magsasaka. Hinihingi lang nila, konting tulong para maipatas ang laban sa mga imported. Itong P41 billion sana ang stimulus para sa ating agrikultura. Madaliin natin ito,” Pangilinan concluded.