Former Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization and former Senate Majority Leader Kiko Pangilinan renews call for the Senate to give priority to Senate Bill 2675 or the Coco Levy Trust Fund measure as the Senate resumes plenary on Monday, January 18.
“The ball is now in the court of the Senate and we ask our senators to act swiftly. Their version of the Coco Levy Trust Fund measure must pass as they resume plenary. This will be the last chance of this Congress to preserve the fund. If this will be delayed, we will be back to square one next Congress, and our farmers will be further denied of what’s rightfully theirs,” said Pangilinan, who during his term as PAFSAM and Chairman of the Board of the Philippine Coconut Authority, was tasked by President Benigno Aquino III 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.
“If the measure is not enacted, the entire amount of Php 72 billion will be commingled with all other funds in the national treasury under the one fund concept. This must be prevented by urgent legislation. The President has certified the bill as urgent. The House has passed the bill on 3rd reading. What is the Senate waiting for? We urge our senators to end the delay and act on the measure immediately,” added Pangilinan.
The Senate Bill has been in the period of amendments in plenary since March of 2015. The House of Representatives version has been certified by the President as urgent and passed on third reading last October 2015.
“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. We are racing against time as failure to pass the Coco Levy Trust Fund measure during this Congress will mean allowing the injustice brought on our farmers by this oppressive levy to remain unaddressed,” Pangilinan ended.