Pangilinan urges PCA to consult farmers on coco levy fund
“Do not forget the coconut farmers,” Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan urged on Monday as the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) embarked on talks on the management of the P75-billion coco levy fund.
In a statement, Pangilinan said the ongoing discussions on the proposed Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan and the huge amount involved could get the public “off track and lost in technicalities, leaving on the sidelines the genuine concerns of the farmers that need to be addressed.”
Pangilinan urged the PCA to conduct consultations with coconut farmers’ groups so it could have a real perspective on their condition and determine how the development plan would be beneficial to them.
“The strong participation of the coconut farmers will ensure that the Coco Levy Trust Fund will stay on course of promoting the interests of farmers and the coconut industry,” he said.
“It’s a tragedy that to this day, the marginalized coconut farmers who should have benefited from the levy have not seen the fruit of their forced contribution,” he added.
The PCA has reportedly began drafting the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan which would make use of the P75-billion fund.
The bicameral conference committee is also scheduled to hold a hearing in May on Senate Bill No. 1233 and House Bill No. 5745 that would allow the disbursement of the fund.
Pangilinan said he was “optimistic” that the bicameral conference committee would come up with a harmonized version of the bills that would be “responsive to the needs of the farmers.” /atm
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