By Jasper Y. Arcalas, February 19 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Business Mirror

A coalition of farmers is urging lawmakers to reconsider their proposed law on the utilization of the over P70-billion coconut-levy fund, as a majority of its provisions are aligned with what President Duterte wants to implement.

Kilusan Para sa Ugnayan ng mga Samahang Magniniyog (Kilus Magniniyog) convenor Rene Cerilla said the President would have not vetoed the twin bills on the coconut-levy fund if only the lawmakers listened to the concerns and position of the local farmers.

“The farmers know what they want and what is right for the industry. So we hope lawmakers follow what the coconut sector wants to happen with the coconut-levy fund,” Cerilla said in an interview on Monday.

“If they [lawmakers] only listened to our position, then the law would have been passed already,” he added.

Cerilla said delays in the passage of a law covering the coco-levy fund would prolong the farmers’ burden aggravated by low prices of copra.

“We hope that the veto by the President would serve as a lesson to our incumbent congressmen and senators,” he said.

“And this would also be a lesson to those who are running for government position to listen to the farmers and not only serve their personal interests,” he added.

Cerilla said among the provisions that Kilus Magniniyog are pushing include the creation of a separate trust fund committee that would oversee the utilization of the coco-levy fund.

The committee could be attached to the Department of Agriculture or to the Office of the President so that the Executive branch could police the utilization of the fund, he explained.

Furthermore, coconut farmers are also seeking the inclusion of a provision that only farmers, whose land are 5 hectares and below, shall benefit from the fund to avoid big coconut farm owners from getting the most out of the coco levy.