Mayor Sara appeals to DA: Help coconut farmers

Published March 20, 2019, 10:14 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Ben Rosario

MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte – Responding to the appeal of coconut farmers in Region 8, Hugpong ng Pagbabago chairperson and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) to immediately address the economic burden being suffered by the coconut industry as a result of the plunging price of copra.

Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte (HNP / MANILA BULLETIN)
Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte

Duterte also aired her optimism that the 18th Congress will respond to President Rodrigo Duterte’s veto message of the coconut levy bill, saying that an amended measure should plug the loopholes in the bill that her father has rejected.

The young Duterte led the team of 13 senatorial bets the HNP has endorsed as they barnstormed key areas in Region 8. Huge rallies were staged in Catarman, Northern Samar; Tacloban City, Leyte and Maasin City, Southern Leyte.

In these areas, coconut industry leaders and local government officials raised their concern over the low copra price.

She explained that the same appeal has been issued in Mindanao, especially in coconut-producing areas in Davao region.

“Dapat i-resolve na ito ng Department of Agriculture. Ang sikreto diyan ay nasa secretary ng Department of Agriculture,” Duterte told reporters. (This should be resolved by the DA. The secret in addressing this is with the DA secretary).

Asked to react to a move in the House of Representatives to stop the importation of palm oil, Duterte said Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol should address the issue.

She acknowledged that palm oil production is a growing industry in Mindanao, especially in Pinol’s region.

She said it is high time for the DA to strike a balance between the coconut and palm oil industries, adding that the department is in a good position to resolve the problem.

Duterte also aired strong support for the passage of another coconut levy fund measure that was previously rejected by the president.

The local chief executive said she expects the 18th Congress to revise the vetoed bill, this time tailor-fitting it to respond to the version Malacanang has suggested.

She said coconut farmers are in the best position to handle the huge funds collected from the industry during the Marcos era.

The enactment of a coconut levy fund bill is among the campaign pledges made by President Duterte during the 2016 presidential campaign.