As farmers bare the average selling palay prices to be in single digits, Senator Kiko Pangilinan welcomed Agriculture Secretary William Dar’s announcement that the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Sagip Saka Act of 2019 will be released.

“We thank Secretary Dar for his decision to speed up the IRR for the Sagip Saka Act, which may be used to help our rice farmers now,” said the former food security secretary, in reaction to Dar’s confirmation that his office is in the final stage of drafting the IRR.

“We are increasingly alarmed by report of farmers on the ground that palay prices are now as low as P7. We believe that Sagip Saka will be able to help cushion the devastating effects of the Rice Tariffication Law on our rice farmers,” Pangilinan added.

Sagip Saka Act of 2019 or Republic Act 11321 aims to increase farmers’ and fisher folks’ incomes by giving accredited farm enterprises direct access to consumers, including government agencies that need produce for their feeding programs, their employees’ rice allowance, etc.

The IRR includes the process of registering and accrediting farmers and fisherfolk cooperatives and organizations, as well as the Bureau of Internal Revenue guidelines on tax exemptions and requirements.

“Our farmers and the fisherfolks will benefit from the Sagip Saka Law.”

“Alam nating makikinabang ang ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda sa Sagip Saka, lalo na ngayong hirap na hirap na sila dahil sa sobrang baba ng bentahan ng palay. (We know that our farmers and the fisherfolks will benefit from the Sagip Saka Law especially now that they are reeling from the alarmingly low selling prices of palay),” the veteran legislator said.

The seasoned lawmaker also welcomed Dar’s goal to double the income of Filipino farmers.

“The incomes of farmers and fisherfolk should be the benchmark of progress in the agriculture sector.”

“Dapat talagang maging batayan ng pag-unlad ng agriculture sector ang pagtaas ng kita ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda (The incomes of farmers and fisherfolk should be the benchmark of progress in the agriculture sector),” the senator said.

Following the September 3 Senate hearing, Romeo Royandoyan of Centro Saka released the palay monitoring report of his and other farmers’ groups which shows that palay sells at P7-P8 per kilo in Tarlac, P8 per kiko in Nueva Ecija, and P8-P10 per kilo in Zamboanga, among others.

This shows the loss of the farmers as production cost of palay is P12 per kilo.

“Let me just elaborate this point because the objective ng batas natin ay tulungan ang mga magsasaka. Before the batas, ang presyo ng palay is P20. Noong nagkaroon ng batas, bakit biglang dose, otso, nwebe? So pinapahirapan pa natin yung magpapapalay,” Royandoyan said during the hearing.

The hearing was triggered by a privilege speech that Pangilinan delivered on August 13.

He called for a Senate investigation into the effects of the Rice Tariffication Law to focus on proposed solutions to help rice farmers, including emergency relief in the form of cash assistance, and emergency employment of distressed farmers through the cash-for-work program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“We’d also like to see the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) lead its own emergency employment, especially in the rehabilitation its water systems. Agad, puwedeng magkaroon ng dagdag na trabaho ‘yung ating mga magsasaka at pagkakakitaan habang sinusubukan nilang malampasan itong mga problemang ito,” Pangilinan stressed.


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