PCA now 41% complete in validation of registry for coconut farmers

Published May 29, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Less than two weeks before the deadline of mass registration of coconut farmers, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), the lead agency tasked to implement the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act or Coco Levy Act, is now 41 percent complete in the validation of the National Coconut Farmers Registry System (NCFRS).

In a phone interview, Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Administrator Benjamin Madrigal said that as part of the process to create a Coconut Farmers Registry – which will serve as the government’s master list of beneficiaries for the P100-billion coco levy fund – it was agreed upon with stakeholders that the government should not disregard the existing NCFRS. 

PCA Administrator Benjamin Madrigal, Jr. ( Photo credit: https://pca.gov.ph)

There are currently 2.5 million coconut farmers and farm workers registered under the NCFRS, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).  

“The existing NCFRS took three years to complete. With our discussions with NAPC [National Anti-Poverty Commission] and coconut farmers federations like FFF [Federation of Free Farmers], CONFED [Confederation of Coconut Farmers Organizations of the Philippines], Kilus Magniniyog, we were asked not to set aside the 2.5 million farmers [listed in the NCFRS],” Madrigal said. 

As of Friday, he said the PCA was already able to validate 1.04 million of the 2.5 million coconut farmers in NCFRS, while there are 168,000 new registrants.

To recall, Republic Act No. (RA) 11524, also known as the Coco Levy Act, was signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the last week of February and officially took effect on March 13, 2021.  

Its passage will result in the release of the P100-billion coco levy fund, the tax unjustly imposed from farmers during the Marcos Administration from 1971 to 1983.    

RA 11524 mandates the creation of a 50-year Coco Levy Trust Fund, which will be used according to a Coconut Industry Development Plan that will also be drafted and released within the year.

Based on RA 11524, the laws’ beneficiaries are owners of a coconut farm that is not more than five hectares; leaseholders with no more than five hectares or tenants who till or supervise the cultivation of the coconut farm; and farm workers or laborers, whether seasonal or itinerant, engaged in the harvesting of the nuts and processing of copra as a major means of livelihood.

However, RA 11524 also requires these farmers to be part of a Coconut Farmers Registry, which the PCA should update and complete within 90 days from the effectivity of the law.

On Friday, Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros expressed concerns about the looming deadline of the mass registration of coconut farmers.

In a joint statement, the senators said they are worried that not all coconut farmers will be part of the coconut registry by June 11, 2021.