Over six months after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 10969 or the Free Irrigation Service Act, House Agriculture Committee Chairperson ANAC-IP Rep. Jose Panganiban, Jr. has urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) and National Irrigation Authority (NIA) to finish and issue the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law to ensure that the billions of pesos to be allocated for free irrigation will be properly utilized.
“What’s causing the delay? Dapat ilabas na ang IRR para maisakatuparan natin ng maayos ang layunin ng batas,” said Panganiban.
Panganiban, as head of the House Committee on Agriculture and Food, is the father of the free irrigation law as he shepherded the free irrigation bill’s passage in the Lower House.
The legislator said that without the IRR, the law could be susceptible to uneven implementation.
“The urgency of the IRR cannot be overstated.”
“For us to ensure that the free irrigation law stays true to its spirit, we need an IRR that will give it teeth and provide clear guidelines to those who will execute the policy on the ground,” the party-list solon said.
Panganiban said the absence of an IRR could also result in the P2.6 billion allotted for free irrigation in the 2018 General Appropriations Act not being distributed systematically.
The DA and NIA had proposed to set aside P38.9 billion for free irrigation for rice farmers in 2019.
“This is a banner law of the administration, aimed at helping address poverty of farmers who consistently belong among the poorest sectors of society.”
“Sayang naman kung pumalya. This is a banner law of the administration, aimed at helping address poverty of farmers who consistently belong among the poorest sectors of society, as well as increasing agricultural productivity, which is key to the country’s food security,” he said.
Panganiban added that “the urgency of the IRR cannot be overstated.”
“We can see now how low rice supplies can adversely affect rice prices. If our farmers are able to take full advantage of the free irrigation mandated by law, then we will be able to boost their production and avoid unfortunate situations like the shortages in Zamboanga and in other areas in the country.”