Duterte signs EO on coconut dev't plan; here's what it means for farmers

Published June 9, 2022, 9:41 AM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte has signed Executive Order (EO) No. 172, implementing the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP), as he cited the need to increase coconut farmers’ overall productivity and income.

Farmers unhusk coconuts in a remote villages of Piklt, the top coconut producer in North Cotabato. (MB file, Keith Bacongco)

The EO, which President Duterte signed on June 2, will pave the way for the release of a P75-million trust fund for coconut farmers that consists of coconut levy assets declared state property by the Supreme Court (SC) 10 years ago.

In signing the EO, the President said the plan was essential to increase the productivity and income of farmers, alleviate poverty, and rehabilitate and modernize the coconut industry to attain social equity.

The EO further cited the State’s policy to “consolidate the benefits of coconut farmers, especially the poor and marginalized, under various statutes, and expedite the delivery thereof”.

Based on the EO, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) shall implement the CFIDP.

The plan will undergo an annual review to ensure its effective implementation while considering the absorptive capacity and performance of implementing agencies and the outputs and outcomes of programs based on key indicators.

To ensure that strategies and programs are responsive to evolving industry needs, the PCA shall revisit and update the CFIDP every five years, subject to the approval of the President.

The implementation of the CFIDP is pursuant to Republic Act (RA) No. 11524 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, which Duterte signed into law in February last year.

The law mandates the Bureau of Treasury (BTr) to infuse P10 billion into the trust fund in the first year of its implementation. Another P10 billion will be transferred on the second year, P15 billion on the third year, P15 billion on the fourth year, and P25 billion during the fifth year.

The utilization of the trust fund shall be in accordance with the CFIDP. It allows an initial allocation of P5 billion to government agencies implementing development projects for the coconut industry.

The CFIDP will set the directions and policies for the development and rehabilitation of the industry within 50 years.

The plan also incorporates a national program intended for community-based enterprises, coconut farmers’ organizations, innovative research projects, and integrated processing of coconut and downstream products.