By Rey Joseph Aldo, JD 1 and Elsbeth Gregorio-Rubrico, JD 1


From RA 10068 to RA 11511

Republic Act 11511 was signed by President Duterte on 23 December 2020, which took effect on 21 January 2021. RA 11511, as an amendment to RA 10068, declared the comprehensive government policy of the Philippines to promote and further develop the practice of organic agriculture (OA) in the country, and promote community-based organic agriculture systems. This is guided by the National Organic Agricultural Program (NOAP) as implemented by its board under the Department of Agriculture.

The act affirms the government’s confidence on the benefits of OA to increase farm productivity and incomes by reducing imported agro-chemicals. The natural farm inputs used in OA have multi-pronged benefits.

As OA farms do not use harmful chemicals but only farmer-produced organic soil amendments, leaching to natural water supplies is avoided. This reduces environmental pollution, and boosts farm resiliency by enriching soil fertility to withstand a warming climate. All these enhance food security. In terms of health, without chemical exposures, farmers’ health is protected, while consumers intake antibiotic-free produce without agro-chemical residues. This is particularly relevant in building strong immunity in this time of pandemic.

Further Government Support in the New Republic Act

Under both RAs 11511 and 10068, the government, through NOAP supports the commercialization of organic produce, provides extension services to promote OA farming practices in crop cultivation and processing of produce to increase market reach and self-life. Crucial is the capacity building of farmers so as to be able to strictly follow OA production guidelines and documentation requirements to gain certification as OA produce.


Signaling government commitment, the amendment under Section 26 on Appropriations, gave the OA program a budget allocation of P1 billion. This is a huge jump from merely fifty million pesos in 2010 when the first OA Act was approved. The OA program also has an additional 2% annual share of the total DA budget, which is P85.5 billion for 2021.  Hence, the OA program will get an additional P1.71 billion from the DA.

Given this substantial boost in the OA budget, education of farmers will be properly addressed as this is crucial in the effectiveness of promoting OA among the Filipinos. To be certified an organic produce, proper and verifiable documentation is required of all inputs for the cultivation of a particular crop. This whole process can be a challenging task for anyone, most of all to Filipino farmers who are still the least educated among the worker groups. About 33% of them did not finish primary school, compared to only 7% in the service sector. The agriculture sector also has the lowest wages, which has been aptly called “a poor man’s sector.”

Another feature of the amendment act is an added emphasis on encouraging the participation of indigenous organic farmers in promoting their sustainable practices would be given proper support. To be able to share local farmers’ knowledge, collaboration and interaction among farmers, extension workers and other stakeholders would be required. This would need financial support for agriculture extension workers under local government units. This training and education goals for farmers are supported by bringing in the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority into the OA program as provided in the amendment under Section 7 in the composition of the National Organic Agriculture Board (NOAB). The added budget is crucial in the amendment to accomplish these goals.  A nationwide educational and promotional campaign for OA and processing shall also be established.

The comprehensive nature of the OA program also brought into the board a representative from other government departments: Department of Health to consider the health benefits of chemical-free; Agrarian Reform on land use; and Trade and Industry on OA commercialization. To be inclusive, the board also includes 3 representatives from the small farmers engage livestock and crops. The board also includes one representative each from non-government organizations, agricultural colleges and universities, private sector in the organic value chain, national association of PGS groups, a national organization of local government units (LGUs) actually engaged in organic agriculture; and qualified representative from the indigenous organic farmers. These board members will serve a single term of 3 years without reappointment.

Amendments also include Section 10, the creation of coordinating office, the National Organic Agriculture Program – National Program Coordinating Office (NOAP-NPCO) which aims to effectively implement the National Organic Agriculture Program under the DA. The DA in turn provides ample support so that this office is strengthened and empowered to be able to plan and administer effectively the OA program.

The central amendment to RA 10068 is Section 3 which has the provision on the addition and promotion of Participatory Guarantee System (PGS), a second-party certifier on OA products.

Participatory Guarantee System

It has been said that if the original act was known as the Organic Agriculture Bill of the Philippines, RA 11511 is the Participatory Guarantee System Bill. PGS was formally launched by the Department of Agriculture (DA) pursuant to RA 11511 on 4 June 2021. This event also introduced the Philippine Guaranteed Organic Mark for organic products which is particularly beneficial for Filipino exporters of OA products.

Why is PGS so important to the overall OA program of the government? Organic produce commands premium price over conventionally produced agri-products; this is more so for international markets. 

To gain access to this lucrative market, the production process must be verifiable by a recognized certification body as organically produced. However, these certification bodies called third-party certifiers, are often  international organizations or companies. They are too costly to bring into the process. Most certifications cost P100,000 per variety of crop. 

As such, small farmers do away with certification even if their production process with some modifications, would likely be classified organic. Worse, some farmers are even unaware that they are actually OA producers. These farmers could have increased incomes given a place in an organic market and with proper product labelling. Hence, these small farmers could not take advantage of the premium prices of OA produce.

With the funded education goals of farmers in the amended act, this knowledge gap may actually be bridged. This will allow farmers to benefit from Section 18 of the new act; products which are certified and guaranteed by third-party organic certification system and the PGS shall be allowed to be labeled and sold as organic, hence can command higher prices.

This stringent and costly certification of OA produce need not be the case with PGS. Kindly see diagram for the components and relationship of the PGS. PGS which is a form of participatory certification, is a locally focused quality assurance systems. PGS certify producers based on active participation of stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange, especially adapted to local markets and supply chains. This is an alternative to or can complement the third-party certification with a private label that brings additional guarantees and transparency. PGS enable the direct participation of producers, consumers and other stakeholders in (1) the choice and definition of the organic standards used; (2) development and implementation of certification procedures; and (3) the certification decisions. 

Figure 1: The Participatory Guarantee Systems (Greenberg) 

Origins of PGS in the Country

The PGS movement in the Philippines started with an organization called MASIPAG. This organization is led by farmers, together with NGOs and scientists working for the sustainable use and management of biodiversity through farmers’ control of genetic and biological resources, agricultural production and associated knowledge.

Masipag launched its Masipag Farmers Guarantee System (MFGS) in 2004 after Masipag participated in the Alternative Certification Workshop organized by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM – Organics International) in Brazil.

When RA 10068 was passed in 2010, under Section 17, the country only recognized third party certification for products to be labeled as “organic”. Masipag, all of a sudden could not label their products as organic as was practiced prior to the passing of the law.

Owing of this, Masipag strived to include MFGS as a form of organic certification. Small-scale organic farmers in the country cannot afford to pay third party certification costs. Masipag conducted conferences with stakeholders to discuss support for the amendment of RA 10068 which created an organization called PGS Pilipinas.

In 2013, a position paper of PGS Pilipinas was handed by the former president of IFOAM–Organics International to the National Organic Agriculture Board (NOAB), calling for their swift action to amend the law to recognize PGS.

Only with the prodding of an international organization did the DA issue Administrative Order 08 to defer the implementation of Section 17 to December 2016, as RA 10068 took effect in April 2010.  Under the law prior to the amendment, the government could only support PGS to a limited capacity. The DA also formed the Technical Working Group (TWG) to draft the guidelines for the development of PGS that would serve as a basis for PGS accreditation or registration under the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (BAFS). 

Passing the Amending Act

In 2018, the Senate finally prioritized amending the OA law as authored by Senator Cynthia Villar. PGS Pilipinas and Masipag had been in constant consultation with stakeholders to refine the amendment. On 1 June 2020, the Senate approved the amended RA 10068 with a particular focus on PGS.

With the PGS, the smallholder farmers who have long been marginalized in the country can be given priority. With the recognition of the PGS and added funding, appropriate support can be given in terms of production, processing, prioritization of local distribution and marketing of small farmers.

Complementary to the recognition of PGS is the added provision on punishments for mislabeling product as organic when it is not in accordance with the existing standards for Philippine organic agriculture.

Under Section 27 on Penal Provisions and Other Penalties, the accused upon conviction, will be punished by imprisonment of one to six months or a fine of not more than Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00), or both, at the discretion of the court. The same penalties go for corporations. If the offender is in the government service, a dismissal will be warranted. Any organic certification body found to be mislabeling will be given a written warning for first offense and suspension of accreditation if the warning was not heeded.


Huge benefits accrued to small farmers with the passage of RA 11511 owing to its recognition of the practice of participatory certification of OA produce. However, there are still issues that need to be ironed out. Related polices such as those implementing genuine agrarian reform, stricter protection of the environment and a stoppage of land use conversion should be in place to fully realize an “increase farm productivity and farmer incomes, reduce pollution and destruction of the environment, prevent the depletion of natural resources, encourage the participation of indigenous organic farmers promoting their sustainable practices further protect the health of farmers, consumers, and the general public,” as stated in Declaration of Policy.

References:  Accessed 27 Sept 2021.  Accessed 27 Sept 2021.

 Duterte signs organic agriculture law | The Manila Times Available:

 Human health implications of organic food and organic agriculture: a comprehensive review. Accessed 26 Sep 2021.

Senate okays proposed P85.6-B DA 2021 budget | Official Portal of the Department of Agriculture 26 Sep 2021.

Our lowly farm workers. Available: Accessed 26 Sept 2021.

Lubang, S. Towards the liberalization of Filipino Debt. Accessed 26 Sept 2021.

Philippines approve Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) Bill which makes accessible the certification cost for organic produce. Accessed 27 Sept 2021.

Grand Launching of the Participatory Guarantee System (June 4, 2021). Accessed 27 Sept 2021.

Carlson, A. Investigating Retail Price Premiums for Organic Foods. Accessed 27 Sept 2021.

  •   Participatory Guarantee System Finally Recognized After 10 years. Accessed 27 Sept 2021.

IFOAM. Accessed 27 Sept 2021.

i Greenberg, The Participatory Guarantee Systems, digital image,,  Accessed 02 Oct 2021.

IFOAM. Accessed 27 Sept 2021.

i Greenberg, The Participatory Guarantee Systems, digital image,,  Accessed 02 Oct 2021.

xiv Accessed 27 Sept 2021.

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