MANILA -- Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, chairman of the House appropriations committee, on Friday said there is a PHP2.6-billion allocation in the recently signed PHP3.767-trillion 2018 national budget for irrigation fee subsidy.
"Included in the PHP3.767-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2018 is a PHP2.6-billion allocation for free irrigation as part of the Duterte administration's farmer assistance program," Nograles said.
"From the outset, President Duterte has vowed to help boost farmers' production by subsidizing their irrigation needs. He highlighted this yet again when he signed the 2018 GAA on Tuesday. It's our responsibility as lawmakers to facilitate the Chief Executive's worthy causes," he added.
Nograles noted that the PHP2.6-billion irrigation budget for next year is 30 percent higher than the 2017 allocation of PHP2 billion.
He further said a total of PHP5 billion has been funneled to cover the irrigation service fees paid by farmers.
"Our farmers need all the help they can get if we are to achieve our potential as an agricultural juggernaut in Asia. With proper planning and the right pieces of legislation, this dream can be a reality under President Duterte," Nograles said.
According to the National Irrigation Administration, the Philippines has about 10.3 million hectares of agricultural lands. Out of this figure, around 3.1 million hectares are considered irrigable.
Nograles, however, said the lack of irrigation remains to be a problem for Filipino farmers.
Apart from the irrigation fund, the House leader also highlighted the recently approved bill seeking to strengthen the assistance to all farmers by providing free irrigation service fee and all other similar fees or charges.
Nograles is a principal author of House Bill 5670 which was ratified by the House of Representatives on November 20. (PNA)