PRRD urges Congress to pass coconut farmers trust fund law
QUEZON CITY, July 28 (PIA) — President Rodrigo R. Duterte urged Congress to pass a law establishing the Coconut Farmers Trust Fund for the welfare of farmers and development of the coconut industry.
He stressed the importance of the agricultural sector during the 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) yesterday.
The President also mentioned that billions of money from the coconut levy fund would be returned to the farmers.
“Itong perang malaking ito ay gagamitin na ito for the welfare of the farmers,” he emphasised, instructing directly the Congress to sort out how best the money could be utilized.
“I will not make any suggestion but I leave it to Congress to decide what to do with it,” he said.
It would be remembered that Duterte vetoed the coco levy fund bill in 2019 opposing the return of the money to the farmers due to unconstitutionality as stated in his letter to the House of Representatives.
He initially opined that the previous version of the bill may benefit wealthy coconut farmer owners more than smallholder farmers.
The coco levy refers to the taxes imposed on coconut farmers from 1971 to 1983 during the time of Ferdinand Marcos which collection was estimatedly reached to the amount of P9.7 billion.
“Tulungan natin ang ating mga magsasaka, pagka hindi, mawawala yung pera bilyon iyan,” he said.
Meanwhile, he also requested Congress to pass a rural agricultural and fisheries development financing system.
“We aim to provide adequate accessible and affordable food for every Filipino through the ‘Plant, Plant Plant program,” he added.
He said the recommended agricultural program is easier to achieve. “It is more of how you try to convince the farmers to cooperate with the government for their benefit,” he urged.
In his final remarks, he hoped that the 66 bilion agricultural stimulus package will help agricultural and fishery sector to recover from the losses due to pandemic. (ARR/PIA-IDPD)