WHAT WENT BEFORE: The coco levy funds
MANILA, Philippines — Several coconut levy-related measures seeking to create a trust fund to benefit coconut farmers were proposed during the previous Congresses, but these were not enacted into law.
In February, President Rodrigo Duterte vetoed the coco levy fund bill that would have created a P100-billion trust fund for coconut farmers and another that would have strengthened the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).
Likewise, he vetoed the bill reconstituting the PCA, saying among other things, that it gave Congress sole oversight functions.
He said the funds would be susceptible to corruption as what had happened to the pork barrel.
The bill had to go through the bicameral conference committee twice as the Palace raised issues on the composition of the council that would manage the fund and the lack of sunset provisions for the funding for coconut farmers.
The coco levy fund, now with the government, is estimated to be around P100 billion.
Under the second Aquino administration, two executive fiats were issued in March 2015 ordering the disbursement of coco levy funds.
Executive Order (EO) No. 179 governs the disposition and privatization of recovered coco levy-funded assets—pegged then at P74.3 billion, while EO 180 provides guidelines for the use of P74.3 billion recovered by the government from San Miguel Corp.
But in June 2015, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order against its implementation after the Coconut Farmers’ Organizations of the Philippines, a recent incarnation of the Philippine Coconut Producers’ Federation, or Cocofed, challenged the legality of the Aquino executive orders.—Inquirer Research
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