Qualified coconut farmers will finally be able to benefit from the Coconut Levy Fund after President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law on Friday Republic Act 11521 or the Coconut Farmer and Industry Trust Fund Act.
The coconut levy fund is the fees collected by former President Ferdinand Marcos from coconuts farmers, which was later declared as public funds by the Supreme Court.
Under RA 11521, the estimated P100 billion fund will be use development of hybrid coconut seed farms; training of farmers and their families under the coconut registry; research and marketing and promotions for coconut farmers; and crop insurance; farm investments through diversification and/or intercropping;
It will also be use to establish shared facilities for processing coconut; organizing and empowerment of coconut farmers; credit programs from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and the Land Bank of the Philippines; infrastructure development; scholarship program; and health and medical programs.
The said programs will be contained in the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP) to be crafted by the”reconstituted and the strengthened” Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).
The PCA was also tasked to complete the Coconut Farmer Registry, who will include the beneficiaries of the CFIDP programs.
In preparation for the implementation of the CFIDP, the Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG) will account all the funds and assets related to the Coco Levy Fund, which will be then audited by the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Bureau of Treasury (BTr).
The funds will be used for the creation of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund (CFITF), which will be managed by a Trust Fund Management Committee comprised by representatives from the Department Finance (DOF), Department of Budget and Management (DBM); and Department of Justice (DOJ).
The BTr will transfer P10 billion to the trust fund on the first year of implementation of RA 11521.
It will be required to remit the following amount to the CFITF in succeeding years: P10 billion (second year); P15 billion (third year); P15 billion (fourth year); P25 billion (fifth year).
RA 11521 will take effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette on in two newspapers of general circulation.