The Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Credit Policy Council (DA-ACPC) together with the Office of the Undersecretary for High Value Crops & Rural Credit (HVCRC) turned-over a P10 million credit fund to the Metro Ormoc Community Multi-Purpose Cooperative (OCCCI) under the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) program last August 23, 2017 at the Municipal Gymnasium, President Carlos P. Garcia (Pitogo), Bohol.

The P10 million fund will cater to the production requirements of marginal and small farmers and fisherfolk in the Municipality of Pitogo, which is one of the 27 areas covered by the PLEA program.

The simple ceremony, attended by more than 200 locals from various barangays in Pitogo, also featured the Bureau of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources (BFAR) VII’s turn-over of 171 pump boat engines to identified recipients. The BFAR VII previously granted 171 fiber glass boats to the same grantees.  As committed by DA Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, 129 more boats and engines are expected to be given to local fishers.

Municipal Mayor Fernando Estavilla welcomed the support from the DA saying that the PLEA program will be a huge boost in the profit of their farmers and fishermen as it has a very minimal interest rate compared to other lending institutions. He assured the DA that the LGU, with the help of the BFAR Region VII, will constantly monitor the beneficiaries to make sure that the loans and the grants will be put to good use.

Mayor Estavilla added that since 70% to 80% of the locals are fishers, one of his top priorities is to make their island illegal-fishing free. Hence, he has created a task force that patrols within the municipal water 24/7 while also serving as a response team during disasters. As a result of the LGU’s efforts, Pitogo was the only municipality in Bohol that qualified for the DA-BFAR’s program called Malinis at Masaganang Karagatan (MMK), which will award coastal municipalities for their efforts in protecting and conserving marine environments.

“By providing easy credit, we hope to help make it easy for target beneficiaries to produce enough to support their daily needs and to produce more for a bigger harvest or a bigger catch in the future” said Undersecretary Evelyn Laviña of the DA-HVCRC in her speech read by her Chief of Staff, Atty. Joycel Panlilio.

During the activity, DA-ACPC’s Public Affairs and Communication Division Chief Emmalyn Guinto oriented the participants, who are mainly fisherfolk, on the PLEA program.

As discussed by Ms. Guinto, the purpose of the PLEA program is to finance the production of crops, livestock, poultry and the requirements in fishing activity. The loan limit is based on the project requirement and repayment capacity of the borrower as evaluated by the lending conduit up to P50,000 at 6% per annum or 0.5% per month.

On the other hand, Claims Adjustment Division Chief Aniceto Rebayla of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation provided a briefing on crop insurance for the PLEA program beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, BFAR Region VII Director Allan Poquita said that the financial support and the grant of fishing equipment will greatly help in the stability of the economy and will improve the lives of local fishers who can now sustainably supply products not only the local markets but also the nearby provinces.

“We would like to thank the DA-ACPC for entrusting us again as one of their partners for this loan disbursement”, said OCCCI Branch Manager Ginalyn Pala who also assured the ACPC that the financial assistance will strictly be extended to those who are qualified for the program.

Usec. Laviña guaranteed that the DA, through the ACPC, will continue to improve ways by which easy credit is brought to deserving Filipinos and that they will even be trained so that the amount they borrowed is invested properly.

“Sa inyo talaga nakasalalay ang tagumpay. Kayo ang nakabilad sa araw, bumubungkal ng lupa, nagtatanim at naglalayad sa karagatan para sa mayamang huli. Alam naming ang inyong hirap at asahan nyo ang patuloy naming pag-alalay. Kung Hindi dahil sa inyo, wala kaming maihahain sa aming hapag-kainan. Maraming salamat sa napakalaking tulong na ibinibigay ninyo sa amin. Buo ang tiwala namin sa inyong kakayahan,” said Usec. Laviña in honor of the hard-working farmers and fisherfolk.

Atty. Joycel Panlilio of the Office of the Undersecretary for High Value Crops & Rural Credit (front row, 5th from left) and ACPC’s Director Veronica Santos (3rd from right) lead the ceremonial turn-over of P10 million credit fund for farmers and fisherfolk in Pitogo, Bohol

Atty. Joycel Panlilio of the Office of the Undersecretary for High Value Crops & Rural Credit hands out the passbook to one of the PLEA program beneficiaries