Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go commended President Rodrigo Duterte for signing into law a measure he co-authored which provides for the utilization of the Coco Levy Fund to benefit the country’s coconut farmers.
“I commend the President for signing this law that would benefit and promote the welfare of our less fortunate coconut farmers,” he said.
The President signed Republic Act 11524 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act on 26 February.
Under the law, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCS) is tasked to craft the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan which will “set the directions and policies for the development and rehabilitation of the coconut industry within 50 years.”
According to the Senator, the law also mandates the Bureau of Treasury to transmit 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 coco levy trust fund will be utilized for the plans and programs of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan, including the training of coconut farmers and their families, planting and replanting of hybrid coconut seedlings, among other things, he added.
“The law also strengthens the PCA to ensure the implementation of the plan,” the Senator explained.
On the other hand, Agriculture Secretary William Dar has earlier welcomed and supported the measure, saying that the “decades-long awaited legislative measure will greatly help rehabilitate and modernize the country’s coconut industry.”
He added that the law will help unleash the potential of the Philippine coconut industry by paving the way to further increase the country’s export revenues from the coconut agriculture sector.
The law also strengthens the PCA to ensure the implementation of the plan.
In a Senate public hearing on the measure in September last year, Go, who co-authored the measure, had earlier asked its sponsor, Senator Cynthia Villar, as to the number of coconut farmers who will benefit from the measure. Villar responded, saying that the latest figure in 2017 is about 2.4 million coco farmers.
Villar also said that the intended beneficiaries came from 67 coconut producing provinces, five cities and 1,346 towns in the Philippines.