Go commends PRRD for keeping campaign promise to return coco levy funds to farmers

Go commends PRRD for keeping campaign promise to return coco levy funds to farmers

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Senator Christopher “Bong” Go commended President Rodrigo
Duterte for fulfilling his campaign promise to return the coconut levy
fund to the nation’s coconut farmers during a meeting by the Joint
National and Regional Task Forces on Ending Local Communist Armed
Conflict at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City, Quezon
province on Thursday, October 21.

During the meeting, President Duterte, Go, and other officials
witnessed the handover of a copy of Republic Act No. 11524, also known
as the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, which provides for
the creation of a trust fund for the country’s coconut industry and
its workers. The funds were recovered by the government nearly ten
years ago after decades of litigation.

“Napakatagal hinintay ito ng ating mga coconut farmers. Napakaraming
administrasyon ang nagdaan at ngayon lang ito napirmahan. Patunay ito
sa malasakit ni Tatay Digong sa ating mga magsasaka,” said Go, who
served as a co-author of the law in the Senate.

“Malaki ang maitutulong nito sa tuluy-tuloy na paglago ng coconut
industry ng Pilipinas na isa sa pinakamalaki sa mundo. Maiaangat din
nito ang kalidad ng produksyon at pamumuhay ng ating mga magsasaka.
Patuloy sana natin suportahan ang ating mga magsasaka at tulungan
natin silang malampasan ang paghihirap na dulot ng pandemya dahil ang
sektor na ito ang bubuhay sa ating bansa,” he added.

Go participated in the deliberations of the proposed measure in the
Senate plenary. The bill was finally passed and signed by President
Duterte on February 26.

The new law specifically directs the Philippine Coconut Authority
(PCA) to craft the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan which
will set the overall direction and policies for the development and
rehabilitation of the industry within 50 years.

The programs will cover such subject areas as the development of
hybrid coconut seed farms; training and capacity building;
scholarships; research, marketing, and promotion; crop insurance;
empowerment of coconut farmer organization and their cooperatives;
credit programs; infrastructure development; and health and medical
program for farmers and their families, among others.

To finance the programs and projects to be implemented, the law
mandates the Bureau of Treasury to transfer PhP10 billion to the trust
fund in the first year; PhP10 billion in the second year; PhP15
billion in the third year; PhP15 billion in the fourth year; and PhP25
billion in the fifth year.

The PCA is also reconstituted to ensure the participation of the
coconut farmers in the crafting and implementation of the Plan. The
composition of the PCA Board is amended to be composed of the
Secretaries of Agriculture, Finance, Budget and Management, Science
and Technology, and Trade and Industry; Administrator of the
Authority; and three members of the coconut farmers sector to
represent Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

A Trust Fund Management Committee will likewise be created to set the
investment priorities and annual allocations of the Trust Fund and
approve the financial requirements of the Designated Disposition
Entities, which refer to the Land Bank of the Philippines, Social
Security System and Government Service Insurance System, etc.

As the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, the
senator once more called on the Department of Agriculture to increase
access to training and financing opportunities for the agricultural
workforce sector to address the issues of unemployment, poverty and
unequal economic growth.

“Marami pong nawalan ng trabaho at kabuhayan dahil sa krisis. Maraming
mga Pilipino ang napilitang umuwi sa kanilang probinsya kung kaya’t
dapat bigyan natin sila ng oportunidad pang-livelihood na akma sa
kanilang lugar,” continued Go.

“Karamihan ng ating probinsya ay agriculture-driven ang lokal na
ekonomiya. Magiging primary source ng kabuhayan ang agrikultura ng mga
magbabalik probinsya kaya palakasin pa natin ang mga programang
pwedeng magturo at sumuporta sa mga nais magsaka, mangisda, at iba
pang kabuhayang pang-agrikultura,” he appealed.

The meeting was also attended by Executive Secretary Salvador
Medialdea, Department of Public Works and Highways Acting Secretary
Roger Mercado, 2nd District Representative David Suarez, Governor
Danilo Suarez, and Sariaya Mayor Marcelo Gayeta, among others.

Earlier that day, Go also joined President Duterte in witnessing the
inauguration of the Sariaya By-Pass Road in the same city. Running an
estimated length of 7.4 kilometers, the road project begins at the
Manila South Road – Daang Maharlika Road and ends at the Quezon
Eco-Tourism Road.

It lessens the traffic volume in the Daang Maharlika by a significant
70%, benefits at least 15,000 daily commuters and reduces the travel
time from Sariaya to Lucena City from 45 minutes to 10 minutes. (AI/MTVN)

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