The Coconut Farmers and President Duterte’s E.O.

Manila – June 8,2022. In one of his last acts affecting the coconut farmers and the coconut industry President Rodrigo Roa Duterte less than a week ago signed into implementing law Executive Order (E.O.) No. 172 “Approving the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan.” 

In typical Philippine penchant for abbreviation, this document has now become known among bureaucrats, farmer leaders and other coconut industry stakeholders as the “CFIDP.” Some refer to it as the official “Road Map” for the utilization of the multi-billion coconut-levy-based funds.

Consistent with the law on coco levy funds-and-assets’ utilization and disposition or R.A. No. 11524, this latest E.O. holds the trust fund as “separate and distinct from the regular funds appropriated to the Philippine Coconut Authority or PCA,” which originate from general funds given the agency by the government. 

Through many months after the passage of R.A.11524 or the so-called Trust Fund Act, all of government, including its many departments, bureaus and agencies, provided advisory opinions to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to the end of improving the coconut industry’s overall productivity – including the much-vaunted “provision of support services to the farmers” in the latter’s pursuit of hybridization, crop diversification, integrated farming and farmers’ organizational development; in brief – going for “the twin objectives,” said the E.O., “of rehabilitating and modernizing the coconut industry to attain social equity.”

CONFED leaders have all this while urged their various chapters and member organizations to sincerely engage the government in the utilization of funds clearly declared by Court as beneficially theirs, all the coconut farmers, and only held in trust by government.

The CONFED’s Executive Director and Spokesperson, Ka Charlie Avila, reiterated their full cooperation with the PCA but emphasized that their demands continue for the return of their bank (UCPB) which “government devoured through an illegal and disadvantageous merger with the Land Bank.” 

In a meeting at Lopez, Quezon last May 29, on the occasion of the first death anniversary of CONFED founder Ka Efren Villasenor who had incessantly opposed the merger, CONFED leaders manifested anew their desire to have the merger reviewed by the incoming new Marcos administration. They also made clear their opposition to government’s seemingly inexorable plan to privatize the coco-levy-funded industrial assets. FINIS

By: Ka Charlie Avila