Voting 22-0-1, the Senate approved on third and final reading Monday, March 8 the bill that would declare Davao City as the Philippines’ “Chocolate Capital” and Davao Region as “Cacao Capital”.
Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform and sponsor of the Senate Bill No. 1741, said the bill “seeks to recognize Davao as the country’s biggest producer of cacao and its vital contribution in making the Philippines world-renowned and sought-after by chocolate makers from the United States, Japan and Europe.”
“The bill hopes to make Davao City and the Davao Region become an inspiration and a benchmark to motivate other local government units to emulate,” she added.
Villar, however, explained that the bill will not give any special financial assistance or privileges to the city and the region, and that the one-page legislative measure will simply give recognition to cacao farmers.
Earlier Senate President Vicente Sotto III raised the concern that the move will have “financial implications”, as proposed in the House of Representatives’ version of the bill.
Villar assured to push for the Senate bill in the bicameral conference committee.
Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Villar said that 78.76 percent of the annual production of cacao in the Philippines comes from the Davao Region.
Over 20,000 hectares of cacao farms are in the region, with Davao City having the largest area of it, she added.
Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who co-sponsored the bill, said the measure would “recognize our beloved cacao farmers and growers with great respect and appreciation, worth more than what any international award could give.”
During their Monday session, he disclosed that his wife is a cacao grower in Davao Occidental.