Senator Bam Aquino expressed support behind a measure filed by several farmer organizations through a petition for Indirect Initiative that seeks to create a trust fund from the P73-billion coco levy fund for the development of the coconut industry.
Aquino personally joined members of the Koalisyon para sa Ugnayang Magniniyog or KILUS-Magniniyog as they filed Coconut Farmers Trust Fund Act with Senate Secretary Oscar Yabes.
Section 3 (b) and Section 11 of Republic Act 6735 or the “The Initiative and Referendum Act” allows people to submit legislative measures to Congress for action through indirect initiative.
Aquino stressed that the coco levy fund should not be left idle and instead should be fully utilized for the development of coconut farmers, who are among the poorest of the poor in the country.
“We’re hoping that the fund will be used for the development of the coconut industry and the farmers,” said Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.
According to the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), the average net income of an agricultural household in the Philippines is at least Php61,000 per year or just a little over Php5,000 per month.
However, Aquino said coconut farmers are earning just between P16,842 to P23,000 per year.
The Supreme Court earlier declared the coco levy fund belongs to the government and should be used for the welfare of coconut farmers.
The measure filed by coconut farmers aims to use the recovered coco levy funds to develop the country’s coconut industry and benefit small coconut farmers.
Through the trust fund, marginalized coconut farmers will be assisted in developing coconut-based enterprises that can compete in the global market.