THE House of Representatives is set to approve on third and final reading the measure that creates the coconut levy trust fund before it goes on holiday break this coming week.
This is according to Speaker Lord Allan Velasco who added that the passage of the bill would be a fitting Christmas gift to more than three million coconut farmers and their beneficiaries.
Last week, the House approved on second reading House Bill 8136, or the proposed Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act.
The bill was endorsed to the plenary by the House Committee on Agriculture and Food, chaired by Quezon 1st District Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga.
It seeks to let poor coconut farmers benefit from taxes collected from them decades ago, now worth around P76 billion in assets.
The measure among the priority legislation mentioned by President Rodrigo Duterte in his State of the Nation Address in July.
Velasco agreed 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,” he said.
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 for improved 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.