“This is a monumental moment for more than three million coconut farmers, who have long been denied of the fund that rightfully belongs to them.”
House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco stated this as he lauded President Duterte on Saturday for signing into law Republic Act 11524 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act.
“We express our sincerest gratitude to President Duterte for signing into law this landmark legislation that would create a trust fund to finally allow farmers to directly benefit from the multi-billion-peso coconut levy funds collected during the Marcos era,” said Velasco, one of the principal authors of the measure in the House of Representatives.
Velasco said he hopes that “this long-overdue legislation will help change the lives of poor coconut farmers and their beneficiaries.”
The law is expected to benefit around 3.5 million coconut farmers from 68 coconut-producing provinces, who own not more than five hectares of farmland.
It aims to increase the income of coconut farmers, alleviate poverty and promote social equity, and rehabilitate and modernize the industry towards farm productivity.
Under the law, the trust fund will be maintained for 50 years under the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan to be formulated by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).
The law mandates the Bureau of Treasury to transfer P10 billion to the trust fund in the first year; P10 billion in the second year; P15 billion in the third year; P15 billion in the fourth year; and P25 billion during the fifth year.
Some P5 billion from the trust fund will be used upon enactment of the law for programs such as planting and replanting of hybrid coconut seedlings, training of coconut farmers and their families, among others.
The Department of Finance (DOF) shall be designated as the manager of the trust fund.