By Vanne Elainte Terrazola
The Senate is expected to pass on third and final reading next week the proposed law that would reconstitute the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Board.
Senator Cynthia Villar said the Upper Chamber last Tuesday approved on second reading Senate Bill 1976, which seeks to strengthen the representation of coconut farmers in the PCA.
Once approved, the bill would complement the proposed Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act creating the P105-billion coconut trust fund, which now awaits President Duterte’s signature.
Since the PCA would be in charge of the distribution of coco levy fund, lawmakers earlier agreed to craft a separate law that would protect the interest of coconut farmers.
SB 1976, sponsored by Villar, seeks to amend Presidential Decree 1468 or the Revised Coconut Industry Code of 1978 and puts six representatives from the coconut farmer sector in the 11-member PCA Board.
“This bill addresses the concern that farmers will not be 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, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, said in a statement as she welcomed the swift approval of measure.
Aside from the management of the coco levy fund, Villar said the reconstituted PCA Board would also be tasked to strictly implement the programs for the development of the coconut industry as earmarked in the bill.
Under SB 1913, the PCA Board shall consist of four representatives of the government, namely: the secretary of the Department of Agriculture as chairperson; the secretary of the Department of Finance as the vice chairperson; and the secretary of the Department of Budget and Mangement, and the administrator of the PCA as members.
There shall also be one representative from the coconut industry, and six representatives from the coconut farmers sector as members of the proposed reconstituted PCA Board.