P100B coco levy trust fund OK’d

By Mar S. Arguelles LEGAZPI CITY --- Senator Cynthia Villar announced on Saturday that the Senate has recently passed into law creating the P100B coconut levy trust fund under the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act (CFIDA). Villar said upon the passage of the approved Senate version this will go to the Bicameral committee for integration and refinement and once approved, will be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for his signature. Villar said, “The coco levy act was among the priority legislative measures pushed by the President during his State of the Nation Address (SONA).” Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on Agriculture, told businessmen at the 27th South Luzon Area Business Conference (SOLABC) held here August 24-25 said 3.5M coconut farmers across the country would have to benefit from this coco levy trust fund. SOLABC is an annual convergence of the various business chambers throughout Southern Luzon and the Bicol Region being organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This year, it was hosted by the Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry at The Oriental Legazpi Hotel with the full support of the Bicol Association of Business Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the local governments of Albay province and Legazpi City. Similar arear business conferences are held in other regions, such as Northern and Central Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Boom for coco farmers “They (farmers) have waited for several decades for this piece of legislative measure to be passed,” Villar said. Under the Senate bill, the fund will be managed by the reconstituted Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) composed of four representatives from the government (PCA, DOF, DA, DBM), a coconut industry stakeholder, and six representatives from coconut farmers (two each from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao). Every year P5B would be spent as follows: 30 percent of the amount for building facilities; 15 percent for scholarship; 15 percent for the empowerment of coco farmers organization and their cooperative; 30 percent for farm improvement to encourage self-sufficiency, and; 10 percent for health and medical benefits. Villar said she has already filed an accompanying bill that would reconstitute the PCA. She clarified that aside from the coco levy fund, a P10B automatic fund would be appropriated to the PCA annual budget designed to further develop the coconut industry in the country. Under these funds, 20 percent would go to infrastructure development; 20 percent for planting, replanting and the establishment of nurseries; 10 percent for intercropping; 20 percent shared facilities; 10 percent research and development, disease control and eradication; 5 percent fertilization; 5 percent of new products and derivatives of coconut oil products, and; 10 percent credit through LandBank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines.