The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) asked President Rodrigo Duterte to immediately sign into law the free irrigation measure ratified by Congress last December 13.
Principally authored at the House of Representatives by Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao and supported by fellow Makabayan bloc members, the approved bill promises free irrigation for farmers with eight hectares and below.
Senators Panfilo Lacson, Ralph Recto, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Cynthia Villar, Loren Legarda, JV Ejercito, Joel Villanueva, Richard Gordon, and Win Gatchalian were named authors of its counterpart Senate Bill 1465.
“The demand for free irrigation has long been pushed by farmers, irrigators associations and stakeholders in the agriculture sector,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos in a statement Saturday said.
“This pro-people legislation was brought about by consistent mass campaigns, lobbying and unity of farmers to assert free irrigation service,” Ramos said.
Ramos said Casilao’s bill went through the rigorous process of legislation and now awaits Duterte’s signature.
Free irrigation service will greatly benefit farmers and other rural sectors, KMP said.
“Quality and free irrigation service, that is part of a comprehensive and accelerated irrigation development program, will contribute in the advancement of local agriculture,” Ramos said.
The farmer leader said the law when signed by Duterte is expected to achieve the following:
- Increase rice and corn production outputs,
- Be a factor in achieving the country’s long-term rice self-sufficiency targets, and
- Aid in the overall growth of the rural economy towards genuine rural and national industrialization.
The peasant group also called out the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to ensure the measure’s implementation, urging the agency to quit its “dillydallying if not outright sabotage in the implementation of a policy on free irrigation.”
KMP cited that free irrigation for all was in fact one of Duterte’s campaign promises.
After assumption of office, Duterte reiterated that effective January 2017, free irrigation will be enjoyed by Filipino farmers.
“This 2018, we expect irrigation service to be entirely free for farmers,” Ramos said.
Ramos added that free irrigation for farmers will offset the impact of the “anti-people” Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion measure “that will also impact farmers in terms of increased production cost.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)