Opposition Senator Francis “Kiko’’ N. Pangilinan has urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to use Philippine coco coir or coco net in building roads and other public works projects that would spur local economy and increase farmers’ incomes.
“Pwedeng kumita ng dagdag na P500 hanggang P1,000 kada linggo ang ating mga nagniniyog sa coco coir at coco net production. Sa probinsya, malaking bagay ‘yang dagdag na P4,000 na kita kada buwan sa bulsa ng ating mga magniniyog,” he said. (Our coconut farmers can earn additional incomes of from P500 to P1,000 a week in producing coco coir and coco net. In the provinces, an additional P4,000 income a month is a big thing among coconut farmers.)
Pangilinan was Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization in 2014 during the Noynoy Aquino administration.
He facilitated the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) on the use of these coconut products in the construction of irrigation systems as well as embankment projects and slope stabilization.
“We were able to bring down the cost of said infrastructure projects from P10.6 billion to P2.7 billion because of the use of coco coir. It also provided jobs for our coconut industry farm workers and provided added income,” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan said the use of coco coir or coconut bio-engineering solutions in controlling soil erosion is encouraged in the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act (Senate Bill 1396) passed on October 5 by the Senate. He is principal author of the measure.
At Wednesday’s Senate hearing of the DPWH’s P667 billion budget, Pangilinan mentioned that a provision was included in the 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA) on the use of coco coir and coco net but was discontinued the following year.
He then asked Villar if he would continue to mandate the use of coco coir in road construction and other applicable projects.
In response, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said that the use of coco coir in road construction is part of the department’s construction guidelines; it is used when applicable to the project.
Coco coir is material from the coconut husk usually made into coco nets, which is used in civil engineering to hold soil in place and prevent erosion.