President Benigno Aguino signed on Wednesday, 18 March 2015, Executive Order 180 granting the utilization of the coco levy funds for the benefit of the coconut farmers, in a major milestone marking the end of the 40-year struggle for the coco levy.
“The nation’s coconut farmers are among the poorest. They have been waiting for this for too long,” said Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (PAFSAM) Secretary Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan. “They have fought long and hard for these funds and now, finally, after 40 years, the funds will now be used for the benefit of our coconut farmers.”
Secretary Pangilinan, who is also chairman of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Board, has been tasked by the President to conduct continuous consultations with the coconut farmers to ensure that their interests and concerns are the core of the EO as it is being laid out.
A dialogue was held last 26 November 2014 between the KILUS Magniniyog marchers and the President where it was agreed that an EO will be signed after the Supreme Court orders for entry of judgment on the coco levy funds.
“We must now ensure no nonsense implementation of programs,” added Secretary Pangilinan. “The coco levy funds shall be used for their benefit and for the development of the coconut industry. This is not simply a matter of a resolution of a long drawn legal battle as it is an issue of justice for our coconut farmers. The PCA stands ready to implement projects for the benefit of the coconut farmers.”
The OPAFSAM-PCA crafted a roadmap for the utilization of coco levy funds. This is geared towards the empowerment of the coconut farmers, coconut farmers’ organizations and community enterprises through value-adding and diversification of coconut products such as coco coir, VCO, coco milk, coco peat and coco water. Also it is aimed at increasing farm productivity and farmers’ income for inclusive growth of a sustainable coconut industry.