Outgoing Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Tuesday, June 14 said there is a need to amend Republic Act No. 11524 or the Coconut Farmers Industry Trust Fund Act in order to ensure that farmers are well-represented.
Pangilinan noted that the committee mandated to oversee the disbursement of the trust fund lacks representation from the coconut farmers.
“I think tere is lack of farmer representation in the trust fund committee that could disburse the assets. I feel that has to be corrected. We have to help create farmer representation. After all, the funds are from the levy of the farmers,” Pangilinan said in an interview on ANC’s Headstart.
“Hopefully, that could be addressed in terms of representation and amending the law to include farmer representatives in the fund committee,” he said.
The opposition lawmaker also reiterated the need for Congress to strictly monitor the disbursement of the funds.
The senator cited as an example the P42-billion worth of Covid-19 funds that went to Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. to purchase overpriced and substandard pandemic supplies.
“If we will not monitor its use, then the funds might just go to corruption. We need to ensure that the coconut industry will be given a voice and Congress will oversee the use of the P75-billion funds),” he said.
Last week, fellow opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros made a similar call earlier saying the government should include small coconut farmers in the consultations with regard to the disbursement of the trust fund from coco levy assets sequested by the government.
President Duterte earlier issued Executive Order (EO) 172, approving the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP), which would pave the way for the release of the trust fund.
According to Hontiveros, she too pushed for the inclusion of the coconut farmers in the trust fund management committee, but her suggestion was not included in the final version of the bill.