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COCO LEVY

Farmers welcome new PCA head as ally

LUCENA CITY—A national farmers group welcomed the appointment of former provincial board member Avelino “Billy” Andal as head of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), challenging Andal to bring back the coconut industry to life.

Members of the Kilusan Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan (Katarungan) see hope in Andal. “They all see him as a trusted ally,” said Danny Carranza, Katarungan secretary general.

Andal, according to Carranza, fully understands the ills besetting the coconut industry and at least 3.5 million families dependent on it.

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President Duterte signed the appointment paper of Andal on Nov. 8. He was chair of the Rodrigo Duterte Volunteer Foundation, which campaigned for Mr. Duterte for the 2016 elections.

In a short text message, Andal said he is grateful for the farmers’ support.

The to-do list that farmers want to bring Andal is long, however.

According to Carranza, Andal should start by reviewing the ongoing registration of coconut farmers, workers and landowners being carried out by the PCA.

The PCA is holding a nationwide registration of coconut farmers until Dec. 15 in preparation for the passage of a coco levy trust fund bill that would administer the use of up to P75 billion in coco levy funds.

Carranza expressed fear that the registration program might exclude poor coconut farmers, farm workers and landless tenants as beneficiaries.

Carranza urged Andal to send PCA field workers on a massive information drive, down to villages in 68 coconut producing provinces, on the registration program.

In his text message, Andal said he would study the registration program.

TAGS: Avelino “Billy” Andal, Philippine Coconut Authority, Philippine news updates
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