AS IT STANDS | Roman Floresca
For millions of coconut farmers and their families, the end to centuries of suffering is here at last.
That is the message that House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco wants to impart to the country’s coconut farmers who have stayed near the bottom of the social ladder for so long they’ve never seen the top or maybe the middle of the tree.
Now they can dream a little higher. They can reach maybe the lower leaves and the lower branches. Such a dream, if it becomes true, could mean a lot to a family living in penury.
But the dream remains only a dream. And the dream only becomes reality only when they have food on their table, shirts on their backs and their children on to college. And when does such a dream become a reality?
Soon, if we reckon by the way Velasco gave his message. If things turn out right, the Velasco-led House of Representatives will give back to coconut farmers the benefits from taxes collected from them many years ago which now amount to over P76 billion.
Velasco said he sees the need to establish a trust fund to ensure the needs of coconut farmers and their families.
“The establishment of the trust fund will ensure that the recovered coco levy funds will be used for the development of the coconut industry and to uplift the lives of coconut farmers who are among the poorest in the country,” Velasco said.
The coconut trust fund bill is expected to benefit the 3.5 million coconut farmers from 68 coconut producing provinces. Under a program to be formulated by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), the trust fund is to be maintained for 99 years under the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan.
Velasco’s bill aims to increase the income of farmers, alleviate poverty and promote social equity, and rehabilitate and modernize the industry towards farm productivity
As one of his priority measures under his term, Velasco has made sure that the recovered coco levy funds will be used for the development of the coconut industry.
“The passage of the bill would be a fitting Christmas gift to more than three million coconut farmers who stand to benefit from the coco trust fund,” Velasco said.
It’s nice to hear especially to someone who owns 3.5 has of coconut interspersed with various fruit bearing trees. I still have to benefit from that farm.