President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a measure creating a trust fund for coconut farmers, which can greatly help the Philippines develop its underdeveloped coconut industry.
Republic Act (RA) 11524 or the Coconut Farmer and Industry Act, inked by Duterte on Friday, mandates the maintenance of the Trust Fund for 50 years under the Coconut Farmers in Industry Development Plan that will be formulated.
The development plan will be prepared by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and approved by the President.
The new law also reconstitutes and strengthens the PCA, an independent state corporation created under Presidential Decree 1468, to ensure the participation of coconut farmers in the crafting and implementation of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan.
Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar strongly supported the passage of the measure and its enactment into law.
The PCA will be chaired by the agriculture secretary and vice-chaired by the finance secretary. Other members are the secretaries of budget, science and technology, and trade departments; PCA administrator; and three members from the coconut farmers sector representing Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
The Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund, according to the law, will be used for the benefit of the coconut farmers and the development of the coconut industry.
RA 11524 states that the Trust Fund is separate from the regular funds appropriated to the PCA through the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA).
“As such, the PCA shall continue to pursue its mandate of implementing programs and projects from the regular GAA appropriations and from funds under the Trust Fund,” the law read.
The Bureau of the Treasury is directed to immediately transfer P10 billion to the Trust Fund upon the enactment of RA 11524, and another P10 billion for the second year, and P15 billion each for the third and fourth years.
On the fifth year, about P25 billion and any amount accruing, including interest, in the special account in the general fund will be transferred to the Trust Fund.