Press Release
February 27, 2021

Vigilance needed to ensure P100-B fund in coco levy law benefits 3.5 million coconut farmers: Pangilinan

AFTER the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act was signed into law, continued vigilance is needed to ensure that the over P100 billion in cash and assets will benefit the country's mostly impoverished 3.5 million coconut farmers, Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said Saturday.

"Bagong laban ito. Parang Edsa People Power Revolt na panalo ng taumbayan, may panalo rin ang ating mga magniniyog dito pero hindi pa ganap at tapos. Dapat masiguro na ang nag-ambag ng pondo ang siyang makikinabang (This is a new battleground. As the Edsa People Power Revolt was a win for the people, this is a win for the coconut farmers, even if it is partial and unfinished. Those who contributed to the fund must benefit from it)," Pangilinan said.

Government officials tasked to oversee and control the over P70 billion pesos in cash and P30 billion in assets, Pangilinan said, must ensure that these returned ill-gotten wealth be utilized and spent judiciously and according to the provisions of the law.

"Bunga ito ng halos kalahating siglo ng pakikibaka laban sa inhustisya na pinagdusahan ng ating magniniyog. Dapat makinabang na ang ating mga magniniyog at ang kanilang pamilya sa pinagpaguran nila (This is the fruit of almost half a century of struggle against the injustice suffered by our coconut farmers. Our coconut farmers and their families must now reap the benefits of their hard-earned money)," he said.

Despite being principal author of the Senate bill that became law with President Duterte affixing his signature on it and one of its authors, Pangilinan voted with reservations for its passage after some of its provisions were watered down.

Pangilinan and several other senators were overruled during the voting in their push to have farmer-representatives in the trust fund management committee which will oversee the utilization of the multi-billion fund.

He said the law should ensure that the farmers will have a formidable voice in deciding how the fund would be used in adherence to the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan.

Pangilinan said the funds will go a long way to shore up the industry long-forgotten and deprived despite its huge potential for growth.

"In 2019, our coconut farmers earned 143 pesos a day, according to the 2021 National Expenditures Program. Ngayong pandemya, tiyak na mas matindi ang dagok na nararanasan nila (They are surely suffering more hardships now during the pandemic)," he said.

The law creates a trust fund which will receive P10 billion from the Bureau of Treasury upon enactment of the law, and then P10 billion in the 2nd year, P15 billion in the 3rd year, P15 billion in the 4th year, and P25 billion in the 5th year, for a total of P75 billion.

The trust fund will come from the coco levy fund -- the tax imposed on coconut farmers by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos from 1971 to 1983. The money was invested in businesses, but the benefits promised to the farmers never materialized.

"Inaasahan nating ang batas na ito ay magbibigay-buhay sa industriya at sa pangarap ng bawat magsasaka na magkaroon ng mas magandang kinabukasan (We hope the law can bring to life the coconut industry and to every Filipino farmer's dream for a better future)," he said.

News Latest News Feed