Speaker Lord Allan Velasco expects the House of Representatives to pass on third and final reading a bill creating the coconut levy trust fund before its holiday break this 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,” he said.
Last Wednesday, the Velasco-led legislative chamber approved House Bill No. 8136, or the proposed Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, on second reading.
The measure was endorsed to the plenary by the House committee on agriculture and Food, chaired by Quezon Rep. Wilfredo Mark Enverga.
It seeks to let the poor coconut farmers benefit from taxes collected from them decades ago, now about P76 billion in assets.
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,” he said.
Upon assumption as Speaker, he 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.
Under the proposed legislation, the trust fund would be maintained for 99 years under the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan to be formulated by the Philippine Coconut Authority.
The measure aims to increase the income of coconut farmers, alleviate poverty and promote social equity, and rehabilitate and modernize the industry toward farm productivity.