PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS
PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law a measure expanding the government’s enterprise development program for farmers and fisherfolk, which goes into the books as Republic Act 11321 or the Sagip Saka Act.
Mr. Duterte signed the measure on April 17. The Palace e-mailed copies of the law to reporters on Monday.
The new law establishes the “Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Program,” which refers to the “comprehensive set of objectives, targets, and holistic approach in promoting the establishment of enterprises involving agricultural and fishery products.”
The program will be integrated and be made consistent with the government’s Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Plan and the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Development Plan.
The law requires the program to adopt a science-based approach in identifying and prioritizing agricultural and fishery products to be covered.
In a statement, Senator Francis N. Pangilinan, the principal author and sponsor of the law, said: “Ang pagsasabatas ng Sagip Saka ay tagumpay ng mga magsasaka at mangingisda, ang mahigit 10 milyong Pilipinong nagpapakain sa atin.” (The law’s enactment is a victory for over 10 million Filipinos who grow our food.”)
“Ano ang nais gawin ng Sagip Saka? Siguruhin na bibili ang gobyerno ng mga produkto ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda sa iba’t-ibang programa nito. (We want the government to stand in as a buyer for produce.) Kaya halimbawa, ang mga government feeding program sa ilalim ng nutrition at health programs ay dapat nang bumili ng bigas, gulay, prutas, manok, at kung anu-ano pang mga produktong agrikultural diretso na sa mga magsasaka at mangingisda. (For example, the governmnt feeding programs to improve the people’s nutrition must buy rice, vegetables, fruits, chicken and other produce direct from farmers and fisherfolk.) Bale, inaalis na ang mga middlemen na siyang kumikita nang malaki mula sa pagod at hirap nila (We have removed the middlemen who earn a lot from the labor of farmers and fisherfolk),“ he added.
He also noted that the new law “exempts both national government agencies and local governments from the Procurement Law when it purchases agricultural products directly from accredited farmer co-ops and organizations.”
“It also exempts donors from paying donors tax when making donations such as capital outlay for farm equipment, post-harvest facilities, and agriculture infrastructure, among others, to accredited farmers organizations,” he said. — Arjay L. Balinbin