THE House of Representatives yesterday approved on third and final reading the proposed Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act which seeks to allow coconut farmers to benefit from taxes collected from them decades ago, now worth at least P76 billion.
Voting 221-6 with zero abstention, the House approved House Bill (HB) 8136 which is expected to benefit around 3.5 million coconut farmers from 68 coconut-producing provinces, who own not more than five hectares of farmland.
It aims to increase the income of coconut farmers, alleviate poverty and promote social equity, and rehabilitate and modernize the industry towards farm productivity.
Under the bill, the trust fund will be maintained for 99 years under the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan to be formulated by the Philippine Coconut Authority. The Department of Finance shall be designated as the manager of the trust fund.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Monday applauded his colleagues in the House of Representatives “championing” the “long overdue” bill.
“This is a monumental day for more than three million coconut farmers, who have long been denied of the fund that rightfully belongs to them,” Velasco said.
“We look forward seeing HB 8136 soon become a law and help change the lives of poor coconut farmers and their beneficiaries.”