PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on February 2 has signed into law Republic Act No. 10969, which grants free irrigation to farmers and condones unpaid irrigation fees.

The Free Irrigation Act would help “sustain the farm sector’s turnaround, which posted a 3.97% growth last year, after posting a 1.4% dip in 2016,” Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto, one of the authors of the measure, said in a statement.

The new law also “grants free irrigation to farmers owning not more than 8 hectares of land, and condones unpaid irrigation fees by farmers who till the same size of land,” he added.

“Irrigation fees — pegged at the price of two cavans of palay per hectare during the wet season, and three cavans during the dry months — are waived,” Mr. Recto said.

“It may just be cappuccino money for coffeeshop regulars, but for those who work the land in never ending penury, those three cavans could spell the difference between famine or feast.”

The President also approved the Republic Act No.10970 declaring the 25th day of August every year as the National Tech-Voc Day.

To ensure a meaningful observance of this special working holiday, all heads of government agencies and instrumentalities, including government-owned and -controlled corporations, local government units, public and private schools, and the basic technical-vocational, and tertiary education institutions, employers in the private sectors, and industry associations, shall encourage and afford sufficient time and opportunities for their employees to engage and participate in any activity conducted within the premises of their offices or establishments in celebration of the “National Tech-Voc Day.”

The annual program of activities and advocacy campaign shall be prepared and implemented with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Department of Education (DepEd) as the lead agencies. — Arjay L. Balinbin