MANILA (UPDATED) - President Rodrigo Duterte has vetoed a bill seeking to strengthen the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), which has been tasked to oversee the coco levy fund.
A letter from the Office of the President was received by the Senate on Friday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III announced in a Senate session.
"The honorable Senate President and members of the Senate, ladies and gentlemen, we respectfully transmit herewith the veto message of President Rodrigo Duterte on consolidated enrolled Senate Bill No. 1976 and House Bill No. 8852 entitled An Act to Further Strengthen the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA)," the letter read.
"Amending Presidential Decree No. 1468 otherwise known as revised Coconut Industry Code as amended in appropriating funds therefore pursuant to the provisions of Article 6 Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution, very truly yours, signed Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea."
Sotto added that the letter contained the signature of the President. The veto message was not read in the Senate session.
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 statement Saturday, Sen. Cynthia Villar said Duterte's decision was "unfortunate" but there is still hope for coconut farmers.
"However, this does not mean that all hopes are lost for our 3.5 million coconut farmers who have waited for decades to benefit from the coconut levy funds," said Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.
"In the coming days, I hope to be enlightened more on why the President believes the measure lacked 'vital safeguards' and will work with him to improve this bill."