House OKs coco levy trust fund bill on 2nd reading
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives approved on second reading the proposed legislation to declare coconut levy assets as a trust fund in order to rehabilitate and modernize the nation’s coconut industry.
Through voice voting on Wednesday, the lower chamber approved House Bill No. 8136 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act.
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.
Quezon 1st District Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga, who sponsored the measure, said the utilization of the trust fund will be “in accordance with the coconut farmers and industry development plan,” which shall be prepared by the Philippine Coconut Authority.
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.
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.
However, in his latest State of the Nation Address (SONA), Duterte called on Congress to pass the coconut levy trust fund bill.
The Senate passed its own version of the coco levy fund bill on the third and final reading in October.