MANILA – The coco levy fund trust is now P75 billion, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) said Thursday at the first hearing on money and assets the Supreme Court ruled was collected from the coconut farmers from 1973 to 1982.
The law to be enacted from the measures seeking to allow the coconut farmers use the trust fund will end the Martial Law-era injustice and uplift the lives of 3 million coconut farmers from whom the levy was collected, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, said the funds may now be used to develop the coconut industry using the whole coconut, not just the copra (or the dried mature coconut meat) which forms the core of the industry now.
Doing this will allow the country to produce and export more value-added coco products, the senator said.
“Instead of mostly raw and crude coconut oil derived from copra, we will export more processed and value-added coco products and by-products like virgin coconut oil, coco sugar, coco milk, among others,” Pangilinan said in his opening statement.
He said the funds should be used to increase the income of coconut farmers and workers.
“We will enhance farm productivity, set up coco-based community enterprises like seednut nurseries, integrated processing centers (for coco husk, shell, water, meat, sap, and lumber), natural fertilizer (coco peat and vermiculture) production and livestock integration, and intercropping. Farmers and farm workers will take part in replanting, fertilization, and pest management,” Pangilinan said.
He said the funds may also be used to organize coconut farmers and farm workers, most of whom are unorganized, at barangay and municipal levels.
“Through self-organization, they will also able to establish their own registry, farm production data, history of pests and diseases, adaptation measures, vulnerability maps and data, and power and water sources — skills and abilities needed to scientifically manage farms,” Pangilinan said.
Danilo Daniel, officer-in-charge of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, gave an update on the status of the P75.354 billion funds.
The cash, which totals P62.5 billion, is broken down into: principal at P56.5 billion, interest at P3.6 billion, San Miguel Corp. share dividends at P854 million, and remittance from the United Coconut PlantersBank at P1.48 billion. The government securities, which totals P12.847 billion, is broken down into: principal at P12.33 billion and interest at P515.3 million.