House finally approves coco levy trust fund bill
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives on Monday passed on third and final reading a measure that would legislate the establishment of a levy trust fund for coconut farmers.
Voting 221-6-0, the lower chamber approved House Bill No. 8136 or the proposed Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act.
Under the proposed measure, the trust fund will be managed by a board that will craft plans on the utilization of the tax collected from coconut farmers. The tax collection was estimated to have already grown to over P100 billion today.
Bill sponsor Quezon 1st District Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga earlier said the utilization of the trust fund will be “in accordance with the coconut farmers and industry development plan.
Such a plan shall be prepared by the Philippine Coconut Authority.
The Senate passed its own version of the coco levy fund bill on the third and final reading last October.
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.
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