With 22 affirmative votes, zero negative votes, and one abstention, the Senate approved on third and final reading the bill declaring Davao City as the Chocolate Capital and Davao as the Cacao Capital of the Philippines.
Senator Cynthia Villar, head of the Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform and sponsor of Senate Bill 1741, said “the measure seeks to recognize Davao as the country’s biggest producer of cacao and its vital contribution in making the Philippines world-renowned and sought-after by chocolate makers from the United States, Japan and Europe.”
In sponsoring the measure, Villar cited Philippine Statistics Authority data saying about 78.76 percent of the annual production of cacao in the Philippines comes from the Davao Region or Region XI composed of Davao del Sur, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Davao de Oro and Davao Occidental.
There are also more than 20,000 hectares of cacao farms in the region, and Davao City has the largest area.
Villar also noted that Davao City is home to the Malagos Chocolate, which has won 28 international awards.
The brand was also designated as one of the 16 heirloom cacaos in the world by the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund, which is an initiative of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association.
Villar also said that the bill was not intended to give any special financial assistance or privileges to the city and the region, and that the one-page bill would simply give recognition to the pioneering and outstanding collective contribution of the cacao farmers who are mostly small holder farmers supplying dry cacao beans to mostly small- to medium-scale enterprise processors and manufacturers locally and abroad.
Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, who hails from Davao and one of the co-authors of the bill, said the country was a key regional player in the global cacao industry.
He hopes that the proposed measures would help the cacao farmers as well as facilitate the development and further growth of the cacao industry.
He then encouraged the government to take advantage of the rising global demand for cacao, a typically underserved commodity, to make the Philippines one of the top producers of quality cacao in the world.
Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, in co-sponsoring the measure, said the bill, if passed into law, would “recognize our beloved cacao farmers and growers with great respect and appreciation, worth more than what any international award could give.”