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House okays ‘one town, one product’ bill

A measure seeking to institutionalize the One Town, One Product Philippines Program to promote inclusive and sustainable economic development has hurdled final reading approval at the House of Representatives.

Voting 255-0, the chamber overwhelmingly passed on third reading House Bill 9350, which institutionalizes OTOP Philippines as the government’s stimulus program to encourage the growth of micro, small, and medium enterprises in the countryside through the development of indigenous raw materials, utilization of local skills and talents, and featuring of local traditions and cultures across the country.

It mandates the Department of Trade and Industry to provide a package of assistance for MSMEs to help them develop innovative and more complex products with significant improvement in the areas of quality, product development, design, packaging, compliance with standards, marketability, production capability, and brand development.

Magsasaka Party-list Rep. Argel Joseph Cabatbat, the author of the bill, said a lot of MSMEs, that are considered the lifeblood of the country’s economy, are suffering because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s high time that we support our local products,” he said.

He said that since its implementation in 2004, the OTOP program has proven its ability to aid and develop the MSMEs to generate jobs, increase domestic sales and exports, and equip the business skills of entrepreneurs while showcasing Filipino culture, tradition, and creativity.

“However, despite these achievements, OTOP has faced different problems that limited its capacity to engage the MSMEs in the program,” he said.

Cabatbat said the bill aims to secure the annual funding of OTOP to provide increased levels and value of assistance to MSMEs.

An OTOP Philippines Trustmark shall be established as an indication of assurance that a product represents the country’s best – meaning, it has been marked excellent in terms of quality, design, value, and marketability. The Department of Tourism and other relevant agencies shall be required to establish OTOP Philippines hubs.*PNA

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