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Palace cites reasons for coco bill veto

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POLITIKO - The bible of Philippine Politics

By Prince Golez

Malacañang ticked off four reasons why President Duterte, with a “heavy heart,” vetoed the bill seeking to strengthen the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), which oversees the coco levy fund.

In a statement released to reporters Saturday evening, spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the measure grants Congress sole authority to play an oversight role over the PCA.

The Executive Branch should also play a role in oversight to mitigate risk and discourage corruption akin to the practice of pork barrel allocations, according to him.

Panelo added that Senate Bill 1976 and its counterpart, House Bill 8522 give PCA too much control and utilization of the coconut levy funds and assets.

“A reconstituted PCA is given various functions including but not limited to the sale, disposition, or dissolution of coco levy assets without checks and balances,” the official explained.

“Such condition will diminish the ability of the Department of Justice, through the Office of the Solicitor-General in coordination with the Presidential Commission on Good Government to act on cases relating to coco levy assets,” he further said.

Duterte likewise opposed the participation of the private sector in the 15-member PCA board.

“A receipt of P10 billion by the board from taxpayers’ money therefore translates to permitting private persons to influence the disbursement of public funds,” Panelo said.

The chief legal counsel also pointed out that the vetoed bill was set up like the Road Board, which collects the road users’ tax and “heavily criticized for allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds.”

“The PCA Board is given full authority to disburse P10 billion every year in perpetuity without a terminal date, and subject only to review by Congress after six years,” he said.

Duterte’s veto of PCA bill “will give Congress more time and opportunity to improve the formulation of the PCA and the distribution of coco levy funds,” the spokesman concluded.

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