At the start of the planting season this year, Senator Francis “Kiko” Panglinan issued a strong appeal implement the Sagip Saka Law quickly and efficiently to aid farmers adversely affected by the Rice Tariffication Law.
Pangilinan made the call as two major farmers’ groups predicted a decline in the willingness of the country’s farmers to plant palay due to the continuous plunge of palay prices in the market as a result of the influx of imported rice. Adding to this are the usual woes the farmers face such as irrigation and subsidy, and the worsening effects of the climate crisis.
With less farmers planting, the Alyansa Agrikultura and the Federation of Free Farmers 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,” said Pangilinan, who had pressed for an unconditional cash compensation to farmers affected by the new rice regime.
“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 added.
The law institutionalizes a Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Program intended to help make a decent living out of agriculture and fisheries.
The program will provide assistance like agricultural extension services; skills development; provision of production inputs, equipment, and facilities; and infrastructure for production and post-production activities.
It is also geared toward improving farmers’ and fisherfolk’s access to credit grants, crop insurance, and new technologies. Another form of assistance is helping their trade grow by improving their access to markets.
The implementing rules and regulations of the law was signed in October 2019.
“The signing of the law was a victory for our farmers and fisherfolk. It’s time that they feel its tangible results,” Pangilinan said.