In a one-page letter sent to the Senate and the House of Representatives, Duterte said the bill does not have enough safeguards to ensure that the funds for coconut farmers would be protected and that there will be no repeat of the coco-levy fund scam in the past.
Lean Daval Jr./File
Duterte vetoes Coconut Industry Code revisions
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - February 10, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has vetoed a measure supposedly intended to strengthen the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) by amending the provisions of the Coconut Industry Code.

In a one-page letter sent to the Senate and the House of Representatives, Duterte said the bill does not have enough safeguards to ensure that the funds for coconut farmers would be protected and that there will be no repeat of the coco-levy fund scam in the past.

“The powers given to the Philippine Coconut Authority under the proposed measure, read together with the proposed ‘Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act,’ undermine relevant regulations and safeguards that were established to precisely avoid abuses,” Duterte said.

This brings to the fore how the government will also be working on the Sandiganbayan’s decision affirming the turnover of the P75-billion coco levy fund to the government.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea forwarded the President’s veto message last week before Congress went on a long break to kick off the election campaign, which is from Feb. 12 to May 11 for national candidates.

“I am certain that neither Congress nor the Executive can bear to see our coconut farmers being exposed to injury by the very legislation that was intended for their benefit and protection, especially if such injury could have been prevented by the institution of necessary safeguards,” the President said.

Duterte pointed out that the provisions of the bill “do not reflect our ultimate goal of accelerating the full utilization of coco levy assets and funds for the benefit of our marginalized coconut farmers and the coconut industry.”

It was the Office of the Executive Secretary who transmitted the President’s veto message on consolidated enrolled Senate Bill 1976 and House Bill 8852 entitled An Act to Further Strengthen the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) last Friday.

Medialdea’s letter was read during the plenary session but the details of the Chief Executive’s veto message were not.

Senate Bill 1976 or the Strengthened PCA Act seeks to provide greater farmer representation in the PCA board by allowing six farmer-representatives to join four government-representatives and one from the coconut industry.

In a resolution dated last December, the anti-graft court denied the separate motions of some groups seeking to stop the turnover of the coco levy funds.

COCO-LEVY FUND COCONUT INDUSTRY CODE PHILIPPINE COCONUT AUTHORITY
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