The House of Representatives’ prompt action on the bill is a huge leap in resolving the long drawn issue of justice for our coconut farmers spanning 40 years. The government committed that the coco levy funds shall be used for their benefit and for the development of the coconut industry and it is what this administration will deliver,” said Pangilinan.
Pangilinan, as PAFSAM and Chairman of the Board of the Philippine Coconut Authority, was tasked by the President to conduct continuous consultations with the coconut farmers to ensure that their interests and concerns are the core of the measures that the government will take on regarding the funds. This lead to the President’s dialogue with the farmers groups on 26 November 2014 in Malacanang.
In the said dialogue, the President committed that only interest earned by the coco levy funds should be used for programs for the benefit of coconut farmers. He also agreed to certify a bill creating a trust fund and, while waiting for such law, to issue an Executive Order following the 2012 decision of the Supreme Court. In December 2014, the Supreme Court eventually issued a partial entry of judgment and the President issued EO 179 and EO 180. However, in July 2015, a temporary restraining order was issued by the Supreme Court on the coco levy EOs which underscored the need for such law.
“We are optimistic with the enactment of the measure before President Aquino’s term ends. We now appeal to the Senate to pass its version. We know the Senate will not pass upon this historic opportunity to right the wrongs of the past and to finally render justice to the coconut farmers from whom the levy was exacted. This is not simply a question of freeing the funds for their use, it is about rendering justice for the exploitation and the deprivation suffered by the farmers for over four decades.” Pangilinan ended.