President Rodrigo Roa Duterte handed a copy of the Certificate of Republic Actc11524 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act to Benjamin Madrigal Jr., administrator of the Philippine Coconut Authority.
In a ceremony, Senator Cynthia A. Villar handed the certificate to the President who then passed it to the PCA.
Duterte was in Lucena City for the joint National Task Force-Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict IV-A (NTF-ELAC) meeting.
Villar, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, said she is thankful to the President for the passage of the law that would be a big push to reach our goal of uplifting the lives of 3.5 million Filipino coconut farmers from 68 coconut-producing provinces.
“The coconut trust fund belongs to our coconut farmers and their families. With the provision of scholarships for our coconut farmers and their children, an annual allocation of 8 percent, and 10 percent for health and medical programs on top of Philhealth coverage, I am confident this will improve the quality of lives of our coconut farmers,” said Villar.
Continuous education and improving one’s knowledge of new technology on production and post-production of coconut, Villar said, is also supported under the law, with an allocation of 8 percent of the budget that would be implemented by government agencies for training.
With the Coconut Industry Trust Fund Act, Villar also hopes to resolve the many issues blocking the full growth of the coconut industry.
“Aside from alleviation of poverty, the Coconut Industry Trust Fund Act, along with the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan, can provide the direction for the government to achieve increased incomes and social equality for our farmer,” noted Villar.
Under the law, the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan will be crafted by the PCA. It stated that the plan will “set the directions and policies for the development and rehabilitation of the coconut industry within 50 years.”
The law mandates the Bureau of Treasury to infuse P10 billion to the trust fund in the first year, P10 billion in the second year, P15 billion in the third year, P15 billion in the fourth year; and P25 billion during the fifth year.
The government started collecting the coco levy funds from coconut farmers in 1971 through levies, taxes, charges, and other fees imposed with the sale of copra rececada. Aside from coconut farmers, the funds were collected from millers, refiners, processors, exporters, and copra end-users.
In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the coco levy funds were publicly-owned, prompting the government to craft ways on how to develop the coconut industry using multibillion assets.