13 senators vote to recall coco levy fund bill
Thirteen senators on Tuesday voted to recall the coco levy fund bill, which has been transmitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for signature.
Only four senators voted against Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 14, requesting the Office of the President to return the bill to Congress so it can introduce a ‘major” amendment.
“After a careful perusal of the enrolled bill submitted to the Office of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, it was found out that a major amendment to the bill was not included in the bicameral conference committee report,” the resolution read.
“There is a need to withdraw the enrolled bill to enable the Congress to reconsider its approval and introduce a major amendment, which it failed to include in the bicameral conference,” it further stated.
The four, who voted against the resolution were Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Francis Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros, and Grace Poe.
Drilon, Pangilinan, and Hontiveros all belong to the opposition group, while Poe is the lone member of the majority bloc.
Poe said she voted against the resolution because it was her campaign promise to farmers that they would not only benefit from the fund but they should have the “biggest say” on how it would be spent.
“This was a promise I made to them and I’d like to stand firm on keeping that,” she said after the voting.
“At the end of the day, I will still vote for it if the choice is between them not getting any control of the fund that rightfully belongs to them. I will, in the end, of course, support that they benefit from that money that really belongs to them.”
“Ito po’y pera nila at talagang dapat mapunta sa kanila, pero sana sila rin ang may pinakamalaking desisyon kung kung paano ito gagastusin para sa kanila (The fund belongs to them, but I hope they should also be able to decide on how the fund is spent),” Poe stressed.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said the bill should be amended to avert a possible veto by the President.
Zubiri cited in particular the need to amend the composition of the council that will manage the fund to ensure that majority of its members are heads of government offices.
He also cited the need for a sunset provision on the P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, saying it can be released “perpetually” to farmers.
The bicameral committee will be convened immediately to reconsider the measure and introduce the said amendments.
Once passed in the bicam, the bill will be sent back again to the Senate and the House of Representatives for ratification before transmitting it to the President for signature. /ee