Pangilinan refiles bill for coco industry development
MANILA, Philippines–Returning Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan has refiled a bill that will allocate an estimated P73 billion in coco levy assets for the development of the coconut industry, vowing to expedite its passage in the new Congress.
Pangilinan, former Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Administration, this week refiled the Coco Levy Trust Fund Bill which “proposes a complete accounting and inventory of the coco levy assets and for it to be converted into a perpetual trust fund that will be used for the development of the coconut industry without using the principal.”
“Now that we have been entrusted to once again assume a seat in the Senate, we will personally make sure to expedite the deliberation and passage of this measure. Our coconut farmers have been waiting for this for more than 40 years,” Pangilinan said in a statement Thursday.
Pangilinan helped draft the bill during his stint in the Aquino cabinet, basing the measure on a coco industry poverty reduction plan that focuses on coconut enterprise development.
“There are several more profitable produce of the coconut aside from copra such as the virgin coconut oil, coco sugar, coco coir, coco water, among others with very high demands. If the industry will be made robust, it will significantly increase the income of our coconut farmers,” Pangilinan said.
Under his proposal, a Coconut Farmers and Industry Fund Committee will be constituted and tasked to implement the development plan. As members, the committee will have the secretaries of finance and agriculture, the National Economic and Development Authority Director-General, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Administrator, and representatives from the coco farmers’ sector.
The Supreme Court has ruled that San Miguel Corporation shares bought using coco levy funds belong to the state, and “shall be only for the benefit of all coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry.”
The ruling is expected to funnel funds for the benefit of 3.5 million coconut farmers. CDG/rga
READ: Coco farmers want cash
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