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DA, SSS forge partnerships for farmers' social protection
In an unprecedented move, a landmark document was signed by Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala and President and CEO Emilio S. de Quiros, Jr., of the Social Security System (SSS) giving social protection to our Rural Based Organizations (RBOs), Community Extension Workers (CEWs), and learning sites practitioners.
In a ceremonial signing last March 14, 2014, the Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of Agriculture (DA) through the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and SSS, both Alcala and De Quiros hailed the agreement as a significant breakthrough in their continuing efforts to uplift the standards of living of the informal sector and self-employed, especially the farming and fishing sector.
In his message, Alcala lauded the initiatives of ATI in providing incentives to the farmers in the form of insurance premiums that will entitle the beneficiaries to a lifetime pension. He urged that similar incentives be extended to other farmer groups particularly those engaged in rice farming and trading post. For his part, De Quiros acknowledged the fact that this Agreement between the SSS and national government is a rare occasion, “we usually partnered with the private sector but this will be the first time in my memory that we have partnered with the national government”.
Dr. Asterio P. Saliot, Director of the ATI who conceptualized and initiated the program, cited the important role of the RBOs and CEWs in agricultural development. He emphasized that “these groups have been active partners in the implementation of priority thrusts and programs of the DA.” Providing them with a social security insurance is the least thing that ATI can do to recognize their contributions to agricultural development. Saliot assured the budget for the first 100 beneficiaries for this year and scaling up the number for the succeeding years. He looks forward to providing farmers with pension in the future.
The selection of the beneficiaries will be in accordance with the guidelines being finalized by the Partnerships and Accreditation Division of ATI and representatives of SSS from the Cooperatives and Informal Sector. Priority will be given to those Gawad Saka awardees, as well as national, regional and provincial officers who are high performers and who demonstrated outstanding leadership skills in their organization.
Present during the momentous event were SSS Senior Vice President Judy Frances See, Special Assistant to the President Marilou Mendoza, Officer-in-Charge of the Cooperatives and Informal Sector Honorato Carranza, Jr., and ATI's Engr. Renato B. dela Cruz, Alicia Rose Nebreja, and Vianney Ojerio of the ATI Partnership and Accreditation Division, (written by Engr. Renato dela Cruz)