PHILIPPINE Coconut Authority (PCA) administrator Romulo dela Rosa on Friday urged the Senate and House of Representatives to hasten the passage of a measure that seeks to create a trust fund from the P75-billion coconut levy.
“The Lower House will now go to the floor and the other representatives will introduce amendments on the floor. On the side of the Senate, there was a delay even at the community level . . . but we [at PCA]are exerting our efforts also . . . I think the President has listed the coco levy bill as one of the priority bills that they want to push,” Dela Rosa told reporters in a news briefing during the opening of the 31st National Coconut Week Celebration and 5th International Coconut Festival at the Megatrade Hall 1, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City.
“The Executive [department]also has crafted not really its version, but they have tried to reconcile the House and Senate versions, to create a bicameral committee for a unified law and for the President to sign this into law within this year. We’d like to have the law passed within this year,” he added.
Dela Rosa said a big chunk of the coco levy funds should be given to coconut farmers.
“We are quite strongly supporting to have a program for the social protection of coconut farmers such as health and life insurance, scholarships for farmers’ children, livelihood projects, and so forth,” he said. “But aside from that, levy money should also support the enterprise development among the coconut farmers. We want also to use some part of the coco levy funds for research and development in order to further strengthen the coconut industry in the whole.”
The coco levy fund came from taxes imposed on coconut farmers during the Martial Law years by alleged cronies of then President Ferdinand Marcos.