By Charissa Luci | Manila Bulletin
Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. has rallied behind the coconut farmers’ bid to ensure the proper use of P74.3-billion coco levy fund for the benefit and the development of the country’s coconut industry.
“If you would allow me, I volunteer to help you towards the realization of your vision to improve the coconut industry and to ensure the fund that grew through your hard work will not be misused,” Marcos said during a consultation with coconut industry leaders at the Queen Margarette Hotel in Lucena City.
Marcos said the proper and prudent use of levy funds would benefit not only the small farmers but the entire country as well, citing the January 24, 2012 ruling of the Supreme Court declaring that the coco levy funds are “owned by the government to be used only for the benefit of all coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry.”
“The Philippines has the potential to be world’s number one when it comes to coconut products but we have not taken advantage of this potential,” he said.
By using the coconut levy funds properly, the Philippine coconut industry can be “price giver”—dictating the price of the product in the international market—instead of being a mere “price taker”.
The Confederation of Coconut Farmers Organizations of the Philippines (CONFED) has been urging the Senate to enact a law constituting the coconut levy funds and assets into a Coconut Industry Trust Fund (CITF) and providing an administrative structure to manage the trust funds and ensure that its use will benefit the coconut industry and the coconut farmers.
“I will await your proposals so we can jointly develop a bill that will truly address your concerns and aspirations,” Marcos told the coconut farmers, even as he assured that he would ask the backing of the four other senators of the Nacionalista Party to help push the bill in the Senate.