SPEAKER Lord Allan Velasco on Sunday said he expects the House of Representatives to pass on third and final reading the bill creating the coconut levy trust fund before it goes on a holiday break this coming week.
“The passage of the bill would be a fitting Christmas gift to more than three million coconut farmers who stand to benefit from the proposed coco levy trust fund,” Velasco said.
Last Wednesday, the Velasco-led legislative chamber approved House Bill (HB) 8136, or the proposed Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, on second reading.
The bill was endorsed to the plenary by the House committee on agriculture and food, chaired by Quezon 1st District Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga.
HB 8136 seeks to let poor coconut farmers benefit from taxes collected from them decades ago, now worth around P76 billion in assets.
The measure is one of the priority legislation mentioned by President Rodrigo Duterte in his State of the Nation Address in July.
Velasco said he could not agree more with the President on the need to establish a trust fund to ensure the welfare of coconut farmers and their families.
“The establishment of the trust fund will ensure that the recovered coco levy funds will be used for the development of the coconut industry and to uplift the lives of coco farmers who are among the poorest in the country,” the Marinduque solon said.
As soon as he became Speaker in October, Velasco has made the coconut trust fund bill one of his priority measures.
The bill is expected to benefit around 3.5 million coconut farmers from 68 coconut-producing provinces, who own not more than 5 hectares of farmland.
Under the proposed legislation, the trust fund will be maintained for 99 years under the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP) to be formulated by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).
The bill aims to increase the income of coconut farmers, alleviate poverty and promote social equity, and rehabilitate and modernize the industry towards farm productivity.
An initial allocation of P5 billion shall be available to the PCA, including disbursements for the formulation of the CFIDP.
The Department of Finance shall be designated as the manager of the trust fund.Publication Source : People's Tonight