Press Release
September 24, 2018

Senate passes bill reconstituting PCA Board

With a vote of 18 senators present, the Senate on Monday passed on third and final reading a measure that would give coconut farmers greater representation in the body tasked to manage the coco levy fund.

Senate Bill 1976, or the Strengthened Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Law, amends Presidential Decree 1468, otherwise known as the Revised Coconut Industry Code of 1978. The reconstituted PCA board, under the proposal, will be composed of six farmer-representatives, four government representatives, and one industry representative.

The measure, which was authored by Sen. Cynthia Villar, is the accompanying bill of SB 1233 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act, which has been submitted to Malacañang for the President's signature.

SB 1233 created the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund and provided for its management and utilization by the reconstituted PCA.

Under the measure, the P100 billion coco levy fund, consisting of the P76 billion in Treasury and escrow accounts and an estimated P30 billion in assets, will form the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund, which shall be used exclusively for the benefit of coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry.

The funds will be released to the PCA at P5 billion annually until it runs out, which is estimated to be within 25 years.

Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, said SB 1976 addresses the concern "that farmers were not adequately represented in the body that will manage the coconut levy trust fund. With six farmer-representatives in the 11-member board, it is guaranteed that the interest of the coconut farmers will be protected."

Villar also added that the reconstituted PCA Board would be tasked to strictly implement the programs for the development of the coconut industry as earmarked in the bill.

"It is the bill that would safeguard the approximately P100 billion coco levy funds composed of cash and assets and ensure increased income for all coconut farmers such as investments of the trust funds in Philippine government securities to ensure the safety of the fund and for assured returns," she said.

Under the bill, the corporate powers and duties of PCA shall be vested in and exercised by a board of 11 members to be composed of the following:

- Four representatives of the government -- the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture as Chairperson; the Secretary of the Department of Finance as the Vice Chairperson; and as members, the Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management, and the Administrator of the PCA who will be appointed by the President;

- One representative from the coconut industry; and,

- Six representatives from the coconut farmers sector, divided into two representatives each for the island groups of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao as members.

The farmer-representatives must be Filipino citizens, registered with the Coconut Farmers Registry, have considerable experience and reputable track record in promoting coconut farmer's interest and welfare, and nominated by coconut farmers organizations or cooperatives that are active for the past three years in the farmers organizations and development or community enterprise development.

The greater representation of some 3.5 million coconut farmers in the reconstituted PCA, Villar said, is in response to the clamor of farmers for them to be involved in the management of the coco levy funds and in matters concerning their industry. (JPL)

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