A SENATOR is seeking to institutionalize a promotional program for Philippine products that are mainly developed and made by small businesses using materials from their hometown.  

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian said Bill 2366 or the One Town, One Product (OTOP) Philippines Act will help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as well as pursue growth.   

“As we promote the products of each town, city, and region across the country, we will still be able to give them the opportunity to come up with various innovations in their products and services that will help grow their local economy and provide more work,” he said in a statement in Filipino.  

The OTOP Philippines program, the government’s flagship project for MSMEs,  focuses on the use of indigenous raw materials and local skills and talents.  

It covers processed food, craft or artisanal products, wellness products and cosmetics, agricultural-based products, and skills-based services such as traditional Filipino massage and sculpting, among others.  

Under the proposed measure, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) with the help of local government units must provide a comprehensive package of assistance to the program’s beneficiaries.   

It will include product development, capacity building, standards and market compliance, and market access and product promotion.  

If approved, the initial implementation of the bill will be funded using the trade department’s existing appropriations. Thereafter, the program will be included in the government’s annual budget.   

Local government will also be mandated to provide an annual budget for the operation of OTOP program offices.  

There are currently 66 OTOP hubs across the country, 13 of which have already adapted online platforms, said Mr. Gatchalian, citing data from the DTI.   

He added that as of Sept. 30, MSMEs under the OTOP program have generated P56.9 million in sales. 

If approved, government departments and agencies will support the construction and allocation of spaces for the establishment of OTOP Philippines hubs, while every local government must create an OTOP program office.  

The OTOP concept was first launched in 2012 under a different program name, and was relaunched in 2017 using its current banner name. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan