By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The proposed “Sagip Saka Act” which seeks to institute the farmers and fisherfolk enterprise development program of the government is ready for President Duterte’s signature.
Based on the records of the House Bills and Index Service, House Bill 8857 has been transmitted to Malacañang for the President’s signature on March 22, 2019.
“The bill seeks to improve agricultural and rural productivity by strengthening the farmers and fisherfolk enterprise development program of the government,” ANAC-IP party-list Rep. Jose Panganiban Jr., chairperson of the House Committee on Agriculture and Food, said. The Panganiban panel recommended the plenary approval of the measure.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, principal author of the bill, pushed for the urgent enactment of HB 8857 into law, citing the need for the government to contribute to the financial support for farmer and fisherfolk enterpreneurship and development.
“It aims to improve the income of farmers and fisherfolks through enterpreneurship and development,” he said.
House Bill 8857 establishes the Farmers and Fisherfolk Development Program which shall make use of science-based technologies in the identification and prioritization of agricultural and fishery products that will be covered.
It also mandates partnership and alliances between farmers and fisher groups and the private sector to improve market access of producer groups.
The bill creates the Farmers and Fisherfolk Enterprise Development Council which shall oversee the proper implementation of the program. It shall be chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
House Bill 8857 mandates the Agriculture and Fishery Councils (AFCs) of the Philippines Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) to provide the mechanisms for private sector participation in the development processes at the regional, provincial, city, or municipal levels.
The bill also directs the national and local government agencies to purchase agricultural and fishery products from accredited farmers and fisherfolk cooperatives and enterprises.
The procurement by the national and local government agencies of agricultural and fishery products shall be exempt from application of the bidding process prescribed under relevant government procurement laws, it said.
House Bill 8857 provides that within 60 days from the date of effectivity of the proposed Act, the DA, in consultation with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Finance (DOF), shall formulate the rules and regulations for the proper implementation of the proposed Act.