Press Release
August 24, 2016


MANILA -- The 40-year struggle over the estimated P73-billion coco levy fund may soon come to an end as Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan on Wednesday announced that the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act of 2016 (popularly known as the coco levy bill) is scheduled for its first public hearing on September 1.

Pangilinan, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, is optimistic that the issue of the coco levy will finally be given priority after the previous Congress failed to pass the bill. "We have high hopes for the passage of this measure within the 17th Congress, and we will do everything in our power to expedite its passage. We have to recognize the urgency of the situation - our farmers have waited long enough," Pangilinan said.

In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the coco levy fund is public fund, and awarded it to the government to use it to develop the coconut industry. Former President Benigno Aquino III issued two executive orders in March 2015 for its immediate inventory and transfer to the government for the Integrated Coconut Industry Roadmap and the Roadmap for the Coco Levy, and certified the bill as urgent.

The House of Representatives passed the measure on third reading last October 2015, while the Senate went only as far as period of amendments. Pangilinan, who helped craft the bill during his stint as Cabinet Secretary, has repeatedly called for its passage during the previous Congress. "This time, we will personally make sure it pushes through. Through this measure, there will be an accounting and inventory of the coco levy assets that will be converted into a perpetual trust fund that will be used for the coconut industry and its development. This way, we will be able to bolster the income of our coconut farmers," Pangilinan said.

Aside from the coco levy fund bill, Pangilinan is also batting for several pro-farmer and pro-fisher legislation such as the Sagip Saka Act of 2016, which will mandate national and local government agencies to purchase directly from accredited agricultural enterprises thereby increasing the incomes of the farmers and fisherfolk, and the creation of a Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

Pangilinan refiled the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act of 2016 before the opening of the 17th Congress last July 25.

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