In the last Cabinet meeting on Monday, August 22, President Rody Duterte has confirmed his commitment of free irrigation for the country’s millions of rice farmers starting the first planting season in 2017.
President Duterte during the election campaign and even before he decided to run for President, said that irrigation water should be provided free to the country’s small rice farmers to improve their productivity.
Initially, there were some opposition, especially from some officials of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) themselves who said that the free irrigation scheme would affect the viability of the agency since the Irrigation Service Fees (ISF) amounting to about P4-B every year is the source of the salaries of its workers and officials.
Sen. Loren Legarda, chairman of the finance committee of the Senate, and Cong. Karlo Nograles, chairman of the appropriations committee of Congress, however, pledged to support the Free Irrigation commitment of President Duterte.
An allocation of P4-B will be included in the NIA budget for 2017 to cover the ISF collections.
It has been clarified, however, that the free irrigation privilege will only be given to small farmers.
Corporate farms using the services of NIA will have to pay the ISF.