SENATOR Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay has filed a bill seeking to exempt farmer cooperatives and associations dealing with organic fertilizers from paying registration, license fees, and other administrative fees imposed by the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA).
Senate Bill No. 1999, filed on Sept. 12, amends Presidential Decree 1144, which regulates fertilizer and pesticide use.
Noting the increasing demand for organic fertilizer and pesticides and the lack of the farmers’ information on the relevant policies, Ms. Binay said a number of farmer cooperatives may have been exposed to possible criminal liability under the presidential decree, which requires that agricultural chemicals be registered with the FPA.
Separate registrations should also be made for each active ingredient of the products, according to the law. Violators may face imprisonment between 10 years to more than 20 years or a fine between P5,000 to P20,000 depending on the amount of the products involved.
“(The bill) does not propose the abolition of the penalties provided above. Instead, regulation should be encouraged in view of the susceptibility of a free market regime to abuse,” the senator said in her explanatory note.
“It is hoped that through this measure, such cooperatives or associations will be encouraged to submit to the regulatory jurisdiction of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority,” she added.
As another remedy, the proposed measure also seeks to grant amnesties to non-compliant farmer cooperatives and associations to FPA regulations within two years from the enactment of the bill.
The groups will then be required to request amnesty and to apply for the necessary license and registration of the organic fertilizers that they are already selling. An amnesty can be denied if the farmer cooperative or association continued to do business without the required licenses and registration.
The bill also mandates the FPA to conduct an extensive information campaign to all farming communities nationwide regarding the policy and to formulate guidelines for the screening of farmer cooperatives and associations entitled to the exemptions.
It also provides an additional budget of P50 million to cover the administrative costs in the implementation if the proposed measure is enacted into law. — Camille A. Aguinaldo