Villar scolds PH Coconut Authority for confusing budget, not maximizing potential
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Cynthia Villar has scolded officials of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) over its confusing proposed budget, saying that the budget should be fixed and reorganized so that no duplication of projects would happen.
During the Senate’s deliberation of PCA’s budget on Thursday, Villar reminded PCA officials that the P613 million from PCA’s proposed budget of P1.097 billion — or those outside the agency’s personnel services — should be used to complement, and not duplicate the projects that would tap the coco levy funds.
The coco levy funds, which were sourced from taxes imposed on coconut products to develop the industry since the time of former president Ferdinand Marcos, is estimated to be around P100 billion to P150 billion. It was seized by the government after Marcos’ dictatorship collapsed, and has been ruled to be part of public funds.
“PCA should complement the law from its regular program of planting and replanting […] ‘yon ang sinasabi ko, dapat tinignan niyo kung ano ‘yong nasa coco levy fund at ‘yong kulang do’n, ‘yon ang paggagamitan ng pera,” Villar said.
“‘Yon ‘yong sinasabi ko, kung hindi nasama ‘yon sa coco levy (funds), ‘yon ang ilagay niyo ang budget niyo hindi ‘yong duplication sa coco levy. Tapos ‘yong sinasabi mo na hindi kayo binigyan ng budget sa project managment ng coco levy, ‘yon, ilagay mo dyan,” she stressed towards the end of the hearing.
Villar asked PCA officials to present the differences of the programs that would be initiated by the PCA and the Department of Trade and Industry. Along with this, the Senator also asked for the specification of the projects that PCA is proposing.
“Pakita niyo sa akin, anong difference ng gagawin ng DTI at gagawin niyo, kasi (overlapping) ‘yan, so i-explain niyo sa akin ‘yan. Tapos itong mga farm, i-explain niyo sa akin kung saan niyo ilulugar ‘yan, gusto ko makita saan ang lugar n’yan,” she said.
But aside from questions regarding their budget, Villar also asked why the PCA has not been trying to maximize the potential of coconut products, saying that when she was at a world fair in Germany, the country did not showcase any product from coconuts considering it is a top producer worldwide.
Villar raised the question after PCA Administrator Benjamin Madrigal said that they are looking to raise income if coconut suppliers process coconut husks into other products.
According to Villar, the coconut husk is already a by-product — while other countries are already selling and investing in coconut water and coconut sugar.
“Hindi lang naman ‘yon ang gagawin nila sa processing, alam mo no’ng pumunta ako sa abroad, ang pinaka-sikat na product do’n is coco water and coco sugar, nagpunta ako sa Germany, do’n sa world trade fair […] mabiling-mabili do’n ang coco water and coco sugar. And nothing came from the Philippines,” she explained.
“Parang naawa ako sa sarili ko na tayo eh one of the biggest coconut producing country in the world, wala tayong coco water and coco sugar eh ‘yon ang click na click sa mundo eh. Hindi naman ‘yang — waste coconut husk ‘yan eh,” she added.
Before the hearing ended, Villar told PCA officials to set-up another meeting with her so that they can thresh out issues in the budget, before it goes into the plenary hearings.
“‘Pag nakalagay na sa coco levy, ‘wag niyo nang idu-duplicate, do’n na ‘yon. Ayusin niyo itong P600 million na ‘to. And then bago tayo mag-hearing sa floor, mag-Zoom na tayo at ayusin na natin ‘yong aayusin pati ‘yong mga hinihinging report,” she noted.
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