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Nganga uli ang magsasaka! Pangilinan worries about fate of coco levy funds after Duterte vetoes PCA bill

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It’s back to square one for millions of coconut farmers who have waited foe decades to benefit from coco levy funds with President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to veto the bill seeking to strengthen the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Senator Francis Pangilinan said.

In a series of tweets posted Sunday (February 10), Pangilinan said Duterte’s veto of the bill “has put a cloud of uncertainty on when the country’s coconut farmers would finally be able to benefit from the coco levy fund.”

Pangilinan, however, acknowledged that the bill vetoed by Duterte “is not reflective of the farmers’ sentiments and needs.”

“It has gone theough a tedious process of revisions and has lost its soul,” he said.

Malacañang said Duterte vetoed the bill strengthening the PCA because it contains provisions that are prone to corruption.

For instance, Chief Presidential Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said having a P10-billion appropriation for the coconut farming industry without the executive branch’s approval “is “susceptible to corruption akin to creating pork barrel funds.”

An estimated 3.5 million farmers are seen to benefit from the coco levy fund, which were collected from them as taxes during the term of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

The funds, which were supposedly for the development of the coconut farming industry, allegedly ended up being used by companies owned by Marcos’ cronies.

Despite the veto, Pangilinan urged coconut farmers not to lose hope.

“We urge fellow advocates of the coconut farmers’ cause to stay the course and again work on the proposed law that would truly be beneficial to the farmers and the industry,” he said.

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