SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Sunday said the recently-enacted One Town, One Product (OTOP) Philippines Act is the perfect post-pandemic law that would go a long way in helping micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) recover from the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The OTOP Philippines Act is the true embodiment of the Filipino first policy. This is exactly the kind of attitude we need to aid in the recovery of MSMEs, which make up 90 percent of all local business, following the pandemic,” Romualdez, leader of the 311-strong House of Representatives, said.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr. signed into law Republic Act (RA) No. 11960 or the Act Institutionalizing the OTOP Philippines Program last August 25.
It aims to develop a self-reliant and independent national economy effectively controlled by Filipinos through policies and programs that drive inclusive local economic activity and boost economic growth.
“The State shall likewise promote the preferential use of Filipino labor, domestic materials, and locally produced goods, and adopt measures to make them competitive,” read the new law.
“The OTOP Philippines Program is hereby institutionalized and shall be one of the government’s stimulus programs that will encourage the growth of MSMEs in the countryside through the development of indigenous raw materials, utilizing local skills and talents and featuring local traditions across the country; Provided, that simplified requirements and procedures shall be adopted for beneficiaries to easily access the components of the program,” it read.
The OTOP Philippines Program shall cover products and skills-based services known to an area or locality. This includes processed foods, agricultural-based products, home and fashion products, arts and crafts, and skills-based services.
Speaker Romualdez expressed confidence that, “The OTOP Program will redound not just to the individual localities or regions, but the entire country itself in an expedited manner.”
The House leader further said that RA No.11960 recognizes the indispensable rule of the private sector and private enterprises and the necessity to provide incentives to foster advancement among businesses, especially MSMEs.
The law provides a package of assistance for MSMEs with viable products in order to develop new, innovative, and more complex products, with significant improvement in the areas of quality, product development, design, packaging, standards or regulatory compliance, marketability, production capability, and brand development, among others.
“It also aims to assist rural communities in growing the local economy and being more market-oriented and innovation-driven, as well as promote convergence of initiatives from local government units (LGUs), national government agencies, and the private sector in developing and promoting Philippine products, whether for export of the domestic market,” Speaker Romualdez said.
The law designates the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as the main implementer of the OTOP Philippines Program. It shall create the OTOP Program Management Office in order to oversee the program.
The DTI is also, mandated to establish the OTOP Philippines Trustmark, an assurance that the products under the program represent the country’s best.
The regional and provincial offices of the DTI shall, in cooperation with the concerned LGUs, determine the beneficiaries of the OTOP program