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Peasant groups call on Rody to ink the Free Irrigation law

Peasant groups yesterday called on President Duterte to ink the Free Irrigation Law to minimize the effects of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Law for agricultural workers.

The Free Irrigation Law, authored by leftist Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao, was ratified by Congress last December 13.
National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan) chairperson Zen Soriano, in a protest action in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) office in Quezon City, said that the Free Irrigation law is “a much needed break for farmers and their families facing the administration’s Train-wreck.”
“Free irrigation would lessen the burden of farmers amidst the rising prices of basic commodities and cost of production resulting from the additional excise tax,” Soriano said.
“It is time that farmers reap the fruits of their labor. The peasantry and various stakeholders in the agriculture sector have long been calling for free irrigation to lessen the burden on the high cost of production,” she added.
Soriano noted how much of a burden irrigation service fees are to farm workers.
In Central Luzon, farmers’ irrigation service fee costs P4, 500 yearly per hectare while farmers in Cagayan Valley are deep in debt reaching P300, 000 due to back accounts and penalties.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, in August 2016, promised that free irrigation for small farmers is among President Duterte’s projects for 2017.
Last November, National Irrigation Administration (NIA) chief Ricardo Visaya clarified that the ought to be signed law on free irrigation will have to benefit small farmers only.
Visaya, a former Armed Forces chief of staff, said that implementing the free irrigation bill could be challenged by the scarcity of water supplies in far flung areas in the countryside.
“There are still communities which are not reached by power and using dams for power generation will greatly benefit them,” he said.

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