Sen. Kiko Pangilinan
By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — In a bid to resolve the concerns of coconut farmers to access benefits
due them from the recently passed law on how to use the
100-billion-peso coco levy trust fund, Senator Francis “Kiko’
Pangilinan enumerates several recommendations on how to hurdle the
“We don’t want any eligible coconut farmers, landless or owning land
to get excluded. And number two, we want to make sure that those in
the list are in fact legitimate and bona fide para makinabang dito sa
naturang batas,” Pangilinan said in his opening statement in
Thursday’s hearing on his Senate Resolution 736.
Under the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, only coconut
farmers registered on the National Coconut Farmers Registry System
(NCFRS) will be able to benefit from the coco levy trust fund.
The law took effect on March 13, 2021 and mandated the Philippine
Coconut Authority (PCA) to complete the registration of coconut
farmers and farmworkers within 90 days from its effectivity.
Registration ends tomorrow, June 11, 2021.
To inquire into the status of the NCFRS, Pangilinan co-authored with
Senator Risa Hontiveros Senate Resolution 736 which led to today’s
Senate Committee on Agriculture hearing. In the hearing, Pangilinan
expressed the concerns of coconut farmers on the said registration.
“There are concerns about the registration, including among others the
use of English in the registration forms, what has been observed as
the lack of information dissemination in far-flung areas…and also the
short registration period,” said Pangilinan.
In its report to the Senate, the PCA stated that there are 314,104
new registered farmers in the NCFRS.
And if it added the existing list on their registry, the total number
of registered coconut farmers would be 2,839,371.
The Senate panel agrees that this number is enough to start the
programs in the law and release funds for it.
Pangilinan suggested to instead put a working deadline on succeeding
“Puwede nang ituloy ang pagrelease ng funds, pero mayroon working
deadline para ma-enganyo ang mga farmer magparehistro. Kasi nakita
natin dito tatlong buwan lang naka 315,000 na,” he said.
“Ang Pilipino kasi naghihintay ng deadline tapos last two minutes
magre-register. It’s really a working deadline in order to get as many
as soon as possible and that deadline does not mean that after that
date ay wala na,” he added.
The Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act aims to improve the
lives and increase the income of coconut farmers nationwide.
The trust fund will be utilized under the Coconut Farmers and Industry
Development Plan. (AI/MTVN)