Press Release
February 15, 2016

Villar: Agricultural bills up for PNoy's signature

A number of bills on agriculture only need the President's signature before more than 11.8 million farm workers and fisherfolk can start reaping the benefits, Sen. Cynthia Villar said.

"We are confident of the President's support on the enactment of these bills. Our agriculture sector needs the reform and support especially in this era of ASEAN Economic Cooperation," Villar said.

Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, added she sees no reason why the President would veto the bills that will make sure this administration's gains will be protected and sustained.

"For one, the enactment of the bill declaring agricultural smuggling as economic sabotage will be a good accomplishment under his anti-corruption campaign," she said.

Under Senate Bill No. 2923 or the Anti Large-Scale Agricultural Smuggling Act, the amount of smuggled agricultural product subject to economic sabotage is equal or more than P10 million for rice, and equal or more than P1 million for other agricultural products such as sugar, corn, pork, poultry, garlic, onion, carrots, fish, and cruciferous vegetables.

Violators will face a penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of twice the fair value of the smuggled agricultural product and the aggregate amount of the taxes, duties and other charges avoided.

The bill extending the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) up to year 2022 also hurdled House of Representatives and Senate deliberations and will be up for the President's signature.

"To ensure that only legitimate farmers and fisherfolks will have access to the funds. strict guidelines were put in place," Villar said.

Under Senate Bill No. 2951 or the ACEF bill, 80% of the fund will be set aside for loan with minimal interest. Only P5 million per cooperative and P1 million per individual will be released strictly for the acquisition and establishment of agri-based production and post-production, and processing, machineries, equipment and facilities to achieve modern agricultural practices.

Also transmitted for President Aquino's signature are:

  • Senate Bill 3002 or "An Act providing for the development and promotion of farm tourism in the Philippines

  • Senate Bill No. 2831 or the 'Halal Bill' which seeks to institute the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Program

  • Ten local bills creating fish and aquatic resources' breeding areas in the provinces.

Villar said the enactment of laws for the benefit of the agriculture and fisheries sector is crucial because based on the latest official poverty statistics, fishermen posted the highest poverty incidence for nine basic sectors in the Philippines at 41.4%, followed by farmers at 36.7%.

During the 16th Congress, two other bills from Villar's committee were enacted into law, namely Republic Act No.10659 or the Sugarcane Industry Development Act of 2015 and R.A. 10654 or the act to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing that amended the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.

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