President Rodrigo Duterte has vetoed a bill seeking to strengthen the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) which has been tasked to oversee the coco levy fund, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
Sotto announced the contents of the letter from the Office of the President which was received by the Senate on Friday.
“The honorable Senate President and members of the Senate, ladies and gentlemen, we respectfully transmit herewith the veto message of President Rodrigo Duterte on the consolidated enrolled Senate Bill 1976 and House Bill 8852 entitled An Act to Further Strengthen the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA),” the letter read.
“Amending Presidential Decree 1468 otherwise known as revised Coconut Industry Code as amended in appropriating funds therefore pursuant to the provisions of Article 6 Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution, very truly yours, signed Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.”
Sotto said the letter, which contained the signature of the President, was not read in the Senate session.
Senate Bill 1976 or the Strengthened PCA Act seeks to provide greater farmer representation in the PCA board by allowing six farmer representatives to join four government representatives and one from the coconut industry.
It is the first time Duterte used his presidential veto powers to reject an entire enrolled bill, instead of specific provisions.
While Duterte supposedly sees the urgency of addressing concerns of coconut farmers, “the present formulation of the proposed legislative measure regrettably lacks vital safeguards to avoid the repetition of painful mistakes in the past.”
The President had previously threatened to veto a related bill because he wanted government officials, and not coconut farmers, to have a majority of seats in the PCA board as the membership of the PCA board is critical because it is assigned to manage the coco levy funds.
The proposed law for reconstituting the PCA is the “twin law” of the proposed Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act, an enrolled bill that will lapse into law on 17 February. It is supposed to ensure that coconut farmers directly benefit from the roughly P75 billion in coco levy funds and assets.