Yap re-files bill on free irrigation

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Yap re-files bill on free irrigation

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Insisting on free irrigation for farmers, Third District Rep. Arthur Yap filed again a bill proposing Free Irrigation Program.

Yap already filed House Bill 6333 in the 16th Congress for the same purpose, but fell short of time.

This time, Yap filed it among his five priority bills at the opening of 17th Congress as House Bill 37 entitled, “An Act Establishing a Free Irrigation Program, Repealing Section 2, paragraph (c) of Republic Act No. 3601 or An Act Creating The National Irrigation Administration; Section 1, paragraph (b) of Presidential Decree No. 552; Section 1, paragraph (b) Presidential Decree No. 1702; Section 35 of Republic Act No. 8435, Otherwise Known as The Agricultural And Fisheries Modernization Law”.

“It is to increase their incomes and uplift their living conditions. It would also effectively and immediately address the issue of increased productivity and attainment of food self-sufficiency, Yap stated in his explanatory note of the bill.

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Yap was the 7th representative to file house bills on June 30.

In House 37, Yap cited that “the rates of the NIA for the Irrigation Service Fees (ISF) are not very high. In fact, it is authorized to collect only up to an amount sufficient to cover the operation and maintenance of the irrigation system. It is not allowed to collect for the amounts to recover the cost of capital or the indebtedness for the construction of the irrigation projects”.

“Nevertheless, the imposition of the ISF is a huge burden for the farmer beneficiaries. It eats up on what otherwise would already be a small income for the farmer and their families. It leads farmers to further shy away from farming and engage in other endeavors,” he pointed out.

NIA, under its Charter, Republic Act 3601, as amended by Presidential Decree 552 and Presidential Decree 1702, as well as Republic Act 8435, or the Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization Law, has the power and authority to collect ISF.

On this, Yap proposed to amend some provisions in these laws to bail out the farmers from the burden of paying the ISF, in response also to the clamor of farmers in Bohol and other provinces.

Yap proposed that it be called the “Free Irrigation Law of 2016”.

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In the proposed law, Yap pushed that the state “shall promote comprehensive rural development through increased agricultural production, sustained productivity and promotion and development of irrigation systems that are free, effective, appropriate and efficient”.

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Yap proposed that “all irrigation systems built, operated and maintained by NIA, the Department of Agriculture (DA), or any other government agencies, or those turned over and maintained or operated by farmers’ organizations, irrigators’ associations or Local Government Units (LGU), shall be free of use and charges for farmer beneficiaries”.

This will entails repeal or modification of Section 2, Paragraph (c) of RA 3601; Section 1, Paragraph (b) of PD 552; Section 1, Paragraph (b) of PD 1702; and Section 35 of RA 8435; prescribing the power and authority of NIA to collect ISF or other forms of charges for the use of irrigation systems.

Other bills that Yap filed on the opening of the 17th Congress included House Bill 36 which is on Corporate Tax Decrease, House Bill 38 which on Traffic Crisis Bill, House Bill 39 which is on Income Tax adjustment, and House Bill40 on Mandatory Crop Insurance.

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