Duterte signs law creating coco levy trust fund
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a measure creating a trust fund for the country’s coconut farmers.
Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11524 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act on Friday, Feb. 26, a copy of the law sent to the media showed.
Under the law, the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan will be crafted by the Philippine Coconut Authority.
It stated that the plan will “set the directions and policies for the development and rehabilitation of the coconut industry within 50 years.”
The law mandates the Bureau of Treasury to transfer P10 billion to the trust fund in the first year; P10 billion in the second year; P15 billion in the third year; P15 billion in the fourth year; and P25 billion during the fifth year.
Some P5 billion from the trust fund will be used upon enactment of the law for programs such as planting and replanting of hybrid coconut seedlings, training of coconut farmers and their families, among others.
The President vetoed a similar bill in 2019 citing the lack of “vital safeguards” that could “disproportionately benefit wealthy coconut farm owners.”
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, the benefits promised to the farmers were not materialized and various suits were filed to give farmers the fund’s control.
In 2012, the Supreme Court declared that the coco levy fund belonged to the government for the benefit of the country’s coconut farmers.
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