Robert Morada of Baler’s Rice Farmers Association says he will lobby his local government for the full implementation of Batas Sagip Saka. PHOTO COURTESY OF TEAM KIKO PANGILINAN
BALER, AURORA – Vice-presidential aspirant Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Saturday agreed to the call of a local farmers’ group here to amend the Rice Tariffication Law for farmers to recover from revenue losses.
“Kinakailangang reviewhin itong Rice Tariffication measure at mabigyan ng amendments kasama na doon ang powers of regulatory function of NFA para mabantayan din iyong merkado,” Pangilinan said after learning the negative impacts of the law on local farmers here.
During a multi-sectoral dialogue, Robert Morada of Baler’s Rice Farmers Association expressed frustration over the law, informing Pangilinan of provisions in the Rice Tariffication Law that are unfavorable to the cause of farmers.
He cited that the regulatory function of the National Food Authority (NFA) no longer holds true as rice traders are the ones imposing palay prices, at least in the province.
“Nawalan ng pangil ang NFA at ngayon wala nang kalaban iyong mga traders para sa presyo ng palay. Dati mas mahal ang kuha ng gobyerno kaysa sa trader. Pero ngayon, wala ng kalaban, sila na lang nasusunod sa presyuhan ngayon,” Morada said.
Morada said traders buy their palay at P15 per kilo, far from the recommended P20.
Apart from amending the Rice Tariffication Law, Pangilinan said an efficient implementation of the Sagip Saka Act would help address the problems faced by Morada and other farmers.
Passed into law in 2019, the Sagip Saka Act mandates local government units and different national government agencies to purchase goods directly from farmers and fisherfolk cooperatives.
Pangilinan mentioned how the law helped farmers from the Camarines Sur Multi-purpose Cooperative and Nagkakaisang Magsasaka ng Isabela improve their livelihood.
According to Pangilinan, at the height of the pandemic, Isabela farmers were able to sell six million kilos of rice, yielding a revenue of P300 million. The Camarines Sur farmers cooperative, meanwhile, aided 2,300 farmers with over P62 million in revenue.
Pangilinan hopes to replicate this feat in Baler in order to help farmers like Morada.
“So kinakailangan talaga ang full implementation ng Sagip Saka Act at direct purchase ng gobyerno sa farmers at fisherfolk ang isang paraan para ang ating mga rice farmers ay madagdagan ang kita,” he said.
“Pero kung hindi seseryosohin ng gobyerno at kung hindi i-implementa nang maayos ng gobyerno ito, itong batas ay mananatiling batas na naman na walang implementasyon. Kaya napakahalaga na si Vice-President Leni at ang inyong lingkod ang masuportahan ninyo para full implementation ng Sagip Saka Act at amendments to the Rice Tariffication measure,” he added.
Morada expressed high hopes for the Sagip Saka Act saying he will lobby the local government for its implementation.
“Ipaparating natin sa mga liders dito sa LGU natin iyong tungkol sa Sagip Saka na maaari nang direktang bumili ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno sa aming mga farmers para naman tumaas taas na ang aming kita,” he said.