Velasco pushes for the passage of coco levy fund
MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has pushed for the passage of the bill that seeks to establish the coco levy fund, saying it will be a good Christmas gift to coconut farmers.
He said he has already spoken to the chairman of the House committee on agriculture regarding the proposed measure.
“Actually kausap ko ang chairman ng [committee on] agriculture at sinabi ko I want the coco levy fund to be finished, at magandang regalong pamasko sa ating mga coco farmers,” said Velasco during the Daily Tribune’s FB Live interview on Tuesday.
(I talked to the chairman of the agriculture panel and I said I want the coco levy fund to be finished as it would be a good Christmas gift for coconut farmers.)
At least 16 bills were filed at the House of Representatives in the current 18th Congress calling for the creation of a trust fund from the coco levy.
Meanwhile, the Senate passed its own version of the proposed measure on the third and final reading early this month.
Under the proposed legislation, the trust fund will be managed by a board that will craft plans on the utilization of the tax collected from coconut farmers, which was estimated to have grown to over P100 billion.
The collection of levy from coconut farmers started in 1971 during the term of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. After the fall of the Marcos regime, various suits were filed to give the fund’s control to coconut farmers.
In 2012, the Supreme Court declared that the coco levy funds are public funds.
During the 17th Congress, the President vetoed the coco levy bill over its lack of “vital safeguards” that could “disproportionately benefit wealthy coconut farm owners” because the law did not have a limit on the covered land area for entitlement of benefits.
Velasco said he needs the help of every lawmaker in the lower chamber to accomplish the legislative agenda of President Rodrigo Duterte.
He said he has suspended all hearings in the House for a whole week so that he could review all legislations that are up for deliberation.
“Kinausap ko si Majority Leader Romualdez and I told him we have to focus first on the legislative agenda of the President para maipasa natin,” he said.
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