Former Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization and former Senate Majority Leader Kiko Pangilinan calls on the Senate to pass Senate Bill 2675 or the Coco Levy Trust Fund measure before the Senate goes on Christmas break on December 19.
“We appeal to the Senate to pass its version before they go on Christmas break. Our fear is that if they do not act now and instead wait for the resumption of session in January, there may be no quorum by then to act on pending bills since half of the members of Senate are running in the upcoming elections,” 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.
The Senate Bill has been in the period of amendments in plenary since March of this year. The House of Representatives version has been certified by the President as urgent and passed on third reading last October 2015.
“We need to preserve the fund and ensure that it is the coconut farmer who benefits from it and enacting the law will help achieve this,” added Pangilinan.
If the bill is not enacted into law, the entire P72 billion coco levy fund will form part of the general fund of the government which may then be used to fund other government projects under the ‘one fund’ concept, to the detriment of the interests of the coconut farmer.
“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,” Pangillinan ended.