Opposition Senator Francis ‘’Kiko’’N. Pangilinan said on Wednesday that the potential of virgin coconut oil (VCO) as a possible cure for COVID-19 could be the impetus needed to develop the Philippine coconut industry, and more importantly, improve the lives of Filipino farmers.
Pangilinan, the former food security czar during the Noynoy Aquino administration, also served as chairman of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Board 2014-2015.
He said that once VCO is proven to be an effective cure for COVID-19, it would not only be a big help to the virus victims but also to coconut farmers.
“In order to meet the demands of a potential VCO cure, we would need to boost our production and processing capacity. That’s why now more than ever, the coco levy trust fund law that we will pass needs to put the farmer front and center,” he added. ‘
Senators continue to deliberate on the coco levy trust fund bill.
An April, 2020 World Bank report listed the Philippines as the top coconut oil producing country followed by Indonesia, India, Vietnam, and Mexico.
In 2018, the Philippines produced a total 18,405.19 metric tons of VCO worth P63.92 million, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported.
PSA data also shows that of the top 10 agricultural exports of the country, three are coconut products (coconut oil, desiccated coconut, copra oil cake).
Despite these, Pangilinan noted: “The irony and the tragedy is that our coconut production and exports are number one or two but the poorest are our coconut farmers. This is the injustice that the coco levy fund law must correct.”
In an episode of Agri Tayo, the senator’s online show on agriculture, former health secretary Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan shared that three tablespoons of VCO, together with vitamin C, zinc, and melatonin, effectively stopped the transmission of the disease at the hospital and community level.
Clinical trials on VCO as cure for COVID-19 are ongoing, according to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
Trials for suspected and probable cases are nearing completion and expected to finish soon, while trials for moderate to severe cases are still in their recruitment phase.
“Ang turing nga natin sa puno ng niyog ay ‘Tree of Life’. Umaasa tayo na itong VCO na nga ang magsasalba sa buhay ng ating mga kababayang may COVID, at ang mag-aangat sa kabuhayan ng ating mga magniniyog,” Pangilinan said. (We regard coconut as the ‘’Tree of Life. We hope that this VCO would save lives of COVID-19 victims and would lift the livelihood of our coconut farmers.)
As of September 15, the country recorded a total of 269,407 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The proposed measure on the coco levy trust fund is the very first bill that Pangilinan filed in the 18th Congress. He is also the principal author of the measure.