Audit of coco levy funds a welcome development — Bayan Muna
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) move to audit the coco levy funds are for the first time is a welcome development, party-list group Bayan Muna said on Tuesday.
According to Rep. Carlos Zarate, this would ensure that the real status of the controversial funds would be determined.
“The audit will also ensure the integrity and protection of the funds intended for genuine coconut farmers and for the improvement of their lives,” Zarate said in a statement.
During the budget deliberations at the plenary, Zarate asked the sponsor of COA’s budget on whether the Coco Levy funds are being scrutinized. He also asked for a timeline on when the audit would be finished, but the sponsor said that they cannot give a deadline given the immense task at COA’s hands.
“There are apprehensions that the funds may have already been squandered. Now, at least we will know how the different administrations used, if any, the funds and we will hold those responsible for anomalies accountable,” Zarate insisted.
The Coco Levy funds — P62.5 billion in cash and P13 billion in escrow accounts — were supposed to have created a trust fund worth P100 billion for coconut farmers, and which would have strengthened the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).
However, President Rodrigo Duterte vetoed the bill, as it may be susceptible to corruption.
“We also hope that with the COA audit, the House leadership will also push the fast tracking of House Bill 255 or the Genuine Small Coconut Farmers Trust fund bill, so that genuine small farmers themselves can benefit from the fund that was forcibly collected from them more than 30 years ago,” Zarate noted.
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