President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a new law creating the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund, which aims to return to farmers billions of pesos taken from them nearly five decades ago through taxes imposed by dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
Duterte on Friday signed Republic Act 11524 which will pave the way for the release and the utilization of the P100-billion coco levy fund which, in his own words, was taken from farmer’s pockets “arbitrarily.”
The newly-approved measure mandates the Bureau of Treasury to transfer 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.
Some P5 billion from the trust fund will be used upon enactment of the law for programs such as planting of hybrid coconut seedlings, training of coconut farmers and their families, among others.
The law also states that a development plan will be crafted by the Philippine Coconut Authority for the use of funds and to “set the directions and policies for the development and rehabilitation of the coconut industry within 50 years.”
The plan should also seek to increase productivity and income of farmers, alleviate poverty as well as rehabilitate and modernize the sector, the measure said.