Senate passes bill giving coconut farmers greater representation in PCA board
All 18 senators present on Monday passed on the final reading a measure that will provide coconut farmers greater representation in the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) board, which was tasked to manage the coco levy fund.
If enacted, Senate Bill No. 1976 or the Strengthened Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Law will amend Presidential Decree 1468 or the Revised Coconut Industry Code of 1978 — requiring the reconstituted PCA board to have six representatives from the farmers, four from the government, and one from the industry.
According to Senator Cynthia Villar, who authored the proposal, SB 1976 is the answer to concerns that farmers were not properly represented in the PCA board.
“With six farmer-representatives in the 11-member board, it is guaranteed that the interest of the coconut farmers will be protected,” Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, said in a statement.
The six farmer representatives will come from three sectors — two each from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Meanwhile, representatives from the government include the Agriculture Secretary (chairperson), the Finance Secretary (vice chairperson), and the Budget Secretary and PCA Administrators as members.
The industry representative would come from key players in the coconut industry.
Villar noted that the reconstituted PCA Board would be tasked to strictly implement the programs for the development of the coconut industry, as the bill states.
SB 1976 is the accompanying bill of SB 1233 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act, which has been submitted to Malacañang for the President’s signature.
SB 1233 created the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund, which will be managed and utilized by the PCA. The P100-billion coco levy fund, coming from P76 billion in Treasury and escrow accounts and an estimated P30 billion in assets, will form the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund.
According to Villar, this would be used exclusively for the benefit of coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry.
“It is the bill that would safeguard the approximately P100 billion coco levy funds composed of cash and assets and ensure increased income for all coconut farmers such as investments of the trust funds in Philippine government securities to ensure the safety of the fund and for assured returns,” she said. /ee
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