SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
A partylist lawmaker has spearheaded a call urging Secretary Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan to subsidize the irrigation fees collected from farmers by the National Irrigation Administration.
BUTIL Partylist Rep. Agapito H. Guanlao is author of House Resolution 1174 "expressing the sense of the House of Representatives" in urging Secretary Pangilinan to effect such subsidy assistance to farmers.
Providing for adequate facilities for increased farm incomes of small farmers by keeping production costs low is a matter of state responsibility and thus, subsidizing irrigation services should be considered as social costs, Guanlao said.
Likewise, the author stressed that keeping production costs low is a matter of food security and farmers' security.
Sec. Pangilinan, a former Senator, was recently appointed by President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino, III as Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization.
He pointed out that irrigation fees for rice farms is two (2) cavans of palay per hectare per cropping period, higher during the dry season and also depending on the cropping intensity.
"NIA collects as much as twelve (12) cavans per hectare if national irrigation pump facilities are used. Considering present market prices of palay, this costs farmers more than P2,000 per hectare per cropping," Guanlao added.
In his resolution, the author noted that in 2012, Net Service Fees collected from farmers amounted to P1,350,464,477.06, with NIA's total earnings, from service fees and other in the amount of P3,371,155,930.97 in 2012.
To underline his point, Guanlao noted that the government subsidizes the privately-owned MRT and LRT 1 transport system by providing for a P45 subsidy for each commuter using MRT-3, while a P25 subsidy is provided for each commuter using the LRT-1 line.
MRT-3 subsidizes about 300,000 commuters a day amounting to P13,500,000, a month for about P405,000,000 and about P4.86-billion a year, he pointed out.
"If government finds necessity of subsidizing commuters using big private transport business, the more that government should subsidize the service fees collected by the NIA to alleviate farmers from the burden of high cost of producing food for the growing number of Filipinos," he surmised.
The measure is now pending action by the House Committee on Agriculture and Food chaired by Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza.