The Senate on Wednesday approved the bicameral conference committee report on the bill seeking to set up a Php 100-billion coconut levy trust fund.
Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and food and sponsor of the bill, addressed that the reconciled version of Senate Bill 1223 and House Bill 5745 would now be transmitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing into law.
The bill called the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act was among the topic of Duterte during his third State of the Nation Address. He urged lawmakers to hasten the passage of the measure seeking to consolidate all assets and benefits from the coconut levy and create a trust fund for farmers.
The coco levy was a form of tax imposed on coconut farmers during the administration of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The funds were supposed to be used for the development of the coconut industry, but farmers have yet to feel the return of their contributions.
The fund will be managed by the reconstituted Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) which will be composed of one representative each from the PCA, Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Budget and Management (DBM); one coconut industry stakeholder; and six coconut farmers with two representatives each from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.