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Velasco sure Duterte will sign new coco levy bill

THE House of Representatives, led by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, expressed optimism that the bill creating the coconut levy trust fund will be signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte this time.

Quezon Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga, one of the principal authors, said the concerns on the first coconut levy bill have been addressed under the new measure — House Bill 8136 or the proposed Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act — which the House approved on third and final reading earlier this week.

President Rodrigo Duterte last year vetoed the coco levy fund over a question of security of funds.

“We are very careful in crafting this new version of the bill so we are confident that we have resolved everything,” Enverga, who chairs the Committee on Agriculture and Food, said.

Enverga added: “We ensured that there is a limitation of 99 years. Secondly, with regards to the broad powers given to PCA (Philippine Coconut Authority), we addressed this by delineating powers of implementing authority to the newly-constituted Board of PCA.

“We also established a Trust Fund Management Committee, composed of the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) and DOJ (Department of Justice).”

Enverga also expressed his gratitude to Speaker Velasco for making HB 8136 one of his priority measures, ensuring that the same will be passed by the House before it goes on a Christmas break.

He praised Velasco for finding ways to coordinate with the Executive department to ensure that the bill will reach the table of the President for his consideration.

The Speaker earlier lauded his colleagues in the House for the approval of the measure. He also said he looked forward to its passage into law which will help change the lives of poor coconut farmers and their beneficiaries.

HB 8136 is expected to benefit around 3.5 million coconut farmers from 68 coconut-producing provinces, who own not more than five hectares of farmland. It aims to increase the income of coconut farmers, alleviate poverty and promote social equity, and rehabilitate and modernize the industry towards farm productivity.

With this bill, Enverga said the government will be able to invigorate the coconut farming sector by investing in the industry itself.