Press Release
April 19, 2016


The spokesman of Sen. Grace Poe has assured that the coco levy funds, which have been the subject of four decades of legal battle, would be returned to the country's 3.5 million coconut farmers.

Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian said Poe's "Gobyernong may Puso" will ensure that the funds will be used for and by the coconut industry in a manner that is fast, fair, responsible and transparent.

"Under a Poe administration, the coconut industry will be given priority attention. Coco levy funds, or interest income from the trust fund, will be co-managed by the farmers themselves and augmented by regular appropriations," Gatchalian said.

Based on a report by the Philippine Commission on Good Governance, the coco levy funds have a total asset value of P93 billion.

Some 1,195 municipalities in the Philippines rely on coconut for their livelihood. However, the coconut industry contributes only 1.14 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product.

Gatchalian criticized the Liberal Party-led administration for failing to address the needs of the coconut industry and slashing the budget of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) from P4.1 billion last year to P1.27 billion this year.

"Ang pagmamahal sa isang sektor ay napapakita sa pondong inilaan dito. Paano mo ipagmamayabang na mahal mo ang mga magniniyog kung kinaltasan mo naman ang pondo para sa ikababangon ng industriya nila?" he said.

Gatchalian blamed agriculture officials for proposing the budget cut when coconut farmers have yet to recover from the devastation caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda. A government report showed Yolanda shredded 34 million coconut trees in 41,662 hectares in Regions 6, 7 and 8, which account for one-sixth of the national coconut output.

He said Poe will increase the government allocation for the PCA to boost their capacity to help coconut farmers.

"Dadagdagan namin ang budget para sa coconut projects, hindi namin babawasan," he said. "We will also fund the establishment of processing centers that will add value to coconut products and by-products."

In her first 100 days, Poe would also order a massive replanting and intercropping program in the country's poorest coconut producing provinces, Gatchalian said.

There are 95 million senile trees--those that are over 60 years old--in the Philippines. About 44 million of these need to be replanted soon.

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