MANILA – Sixteen Senators from the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food and Finance on Wednesday signed and approved Committee Report on the Coco Levy Bill.
Sponsored and heard by Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, who heads the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, Senate Bill 1233 or “An Act Creating the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund, Providing for its Management and Utilisation, and for Other Purposes” was signed by Senators Pangilinan; Loren Legarda, Chair of the Committee on Finance; Sonny Angara; Panfilo Lacson; Bam Aquino; Manny Pacquiao; Leila de Lima; Richard Gordon; Francis “Chiz” Escudero; Grace Poe; Nancy Binay; Gregorio Honasan II; Win Gatchalian; and Risa Hontiveros.
As ex-oficio members, Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto and Senate Majority Vicente Sotto III also signed the committee report.
This landmark law will ensure the establishment of a trust fund that will enable the P75 billion coco levy to finally be used for the development of the coconut industry, for the first time in 40 years. Kin of coconut farmers originally affected by the levy, as well as various supporting agricultural sectors, was also present.
Key features of the bill include:
- Specifying that the P75 billion in cash and assets of the coco levy fund will go only for the development of the coconut industry.
- Establishing a perpetual trust fund which will only use the interest income earned.
- Creating a fund trustee, the Trust Fund Committee, of which six of its eleven members, or a majority, are either from coconut farmers groups or their representative. It will be Chaired by the Secretary of Finance, and Co-Chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture.
- Specifying the formulation of a Coconut Development Plan.
- Ensuring the active participation of coconut farmers at every stage of the implementation of the law.
Please refer to the sponsorship speech for quotes.