MANILA — Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Saturday allayed fears of some sectors that the multibillion-peso coco levy fund will be abused.
Sotto made the statement amid the apprehension of many coconut farmers and non-government organizations that their long-awaited assistance from the government would still not materialize.
Others also feared that President-elect Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., who will also lead the Department of Agriculture, will not really address the coconut farmers' concerns using the coco levy fund.
The Coconut Industry Reform Movement has appealed to Marcos, Jr. to sit down with their members so he could get first-hand information on what should really be done to help their industry.
But Sotto said the Senate inserted clear guidelines on their approved bill that led to President Duterte's issuance of Executive Order No. 172 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP).
"We have already the guidelines on the coco levy issue when we passed a bill addressing the concerns. That would be a good guide," Sotto said in a text message to reporters.
Duterte, through the EO, ordered the introduction of new programs aided by better technologies to revitalize the country's coconut industry.
It also aims to provide protection to coconut farmers and their family, through the creation of the coconut farmers organization, and promote their products.
The Philippine Coconut Authority, along with some other agencies, will oversee the CFIDP. This is subject to yearly evaluation.
The fund will be sourced from coco levy assets, which according to a Commission on Audit report this year, amount to P111.3 billion.