House bill seeking to revive salt industry clears second reading
MANILA, Philippines — A House bill aimed at reviving the country’s salt industry passed on second reading in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
House Bill (HB) 8278, certified as a priority measure by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council, is titled the “Philippine Salt Industry Development Act.”
During his sponsorship speech, Rep. Wilfrido Mark M. Enverga of Quezon City’s 1st District said that the Philippines’ dependence on imported salt, despite being an archipelago, signals that the local salt industry is in decline.
“Challenges exist in the local salt industry, hence, immediate steps must be taken to address them. We need to save our sinking salt industry,” Enverga said during the House session.
Key provisions of the bill include creating a Philippine Salt Industry Development Roadmap and the Philippine Salt Industry Development Council.
The bill also designates the Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), as the lead agency in bolstering and expanding the salt industry.
Additionally, the bill places salt farms and their fishponds under the jurisdiction of the DA-BFAR instead of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
After Enverga’s speech, the bill was open for amendments.
“The President, consistent with the national interest of safeguarding Filipino salt producers, is hereby empowered to act, and with delegated authority, to revise or adjust existing rates of customs duties on salt imports,” AGRI partylist Rep. Wilbert Lee proposed.
All amendments were accepted, and with no opposing votes, the bill passed. It now awaits the third and final reading.
Also passed on the second reading during the session was HB 7754, or “An act establishing the overseas Filipino workers hospital as a level III hospital under the direct supervision and control of the Department of Migrant Workers, and appropriating funds therefor”, as well as HB 7754, which is “An act reverting fish ponds which have been unutilized or abandoned for a period of three years to forest lands, amending for the purpose 43 of the Presidential Decree No. 705, otherwise known as the ‘Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines.’”