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Use your kukote Congress! Duterte vetoes bill strengthening PCA for lack of safeguards

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President Rodrigo Duterte has vetoed a bill strengthening the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) due to Congress’ failure to put “safeguards” that would protect coconut farmers from abuses.

In his veto message sent to the Senate and House of Representatives Friday (February 8), the last day of session, Duterte said the powers given to the PCA under the measure passed by both chambers of Congress “undermine relevant regulations and safeguards that were established precisely to avoid abuses.”

“I am certain that neither Congress nor the Executive can bear to see our coconut farmers being exposed to injury by the very legislation that was intended for their benefit and protection, especially if such injury could have been prevented by the institution of necessary safeguards,” he said.

Duterte added that Senate Bill 1976 and its counterpart, House Bill 8522, “do not reflect our ultimate goal of accelerating the full utilization of coco levy assets and funds for the benefit of our marginalized coconut farmers and the coconut industry.”

The PCA is tasked to oversee the coco levy fund.

The vetoed bill expands the number of coconut farmers’ representatives to the PCA board to six.

The coconut levy fund came from the tax imposed on coconut farmers by the late President Ferdinand Marcos, purportedly for the development of the coconut industry.

The money, however, allegedly went to companies supposedly owned by Marcos’ cronies.

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