Congratulations to President Duterte for signing a Congress-approved bill providing small farmers with free irrigation.
Republic Act No. 10969 that was signed on February 2 exempts farmers tilling eight hectares and below from paying irrigation fees to the National Irrigation Authority, other state agencies and irrigators' associations (IA). Those with more than eight hectares, including corporate farms, will continue paying irrigation fees.
The law also condones unpaid fees, including interest and penalties, owed by farmers to the NIA. Also condoned are loans, interests and surcharges obtained or incurred by IAs from the NIA.
The NIA is mandated to issue implementing rules and regulations and appropriations necessary for implementation are to be included in the annual budget.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles lauded President Duterte for making free irrigation a reality for farmers. “This law will definitely jumpstart the modernization of Philippine agriculture and, more importantly, unlock endless earning opportunities for our farmers,” he said. Nograles added that while the agriculture sector has always been robust, it continues to be hampered growth-wise by low productivity and it is hoped that free irrigation will finally reverse this trend.
Free irrigation is one of President Duterte's campaign promises that look like it will be fulfilled with the passage of this bill. If there are no more hitches as far as implementation and funding is concerned, Filipino farmers should be able to take advantage of this much needed assistance from the government to increase the productivity and profitability of their farms, improving their lives and helping the agriculture sector contribute more towards our goals of self sufficiency and lower prices.
Hopefully the Duterte administration and its supermajority in the legislature can do more and continue to fulfill campaign promises like free irrigation that can make a significant difference in the lives of ordinary Filipinos.*