Farmers want representation in the Coco Levy’s Trust Fund Management Committee, which is the legally mandated committee tasked to decide on the disposition of the P100-billion worth of coco levy fund and assets.

In a statement, the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) called on the Duterte Administration to maximize the participation of small coconut farmers in the implementation of Republic Act (RA) 11524, also known as the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act.

FFF, to be specific, proposed to Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar and Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Administrator Benjamin R. Madrigal, Jr. to form a farmers’ advisory council to the Trust Fund Management Committee, which was created under RA 11524.

(MB FILE, Keith Bacongco)

Business Bulletin earlier reported that only representatives from three government agencies – Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and Department of Justice (DOJ) – will have the final say on how the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund (CFITF) will be managed and use.

Under the RA 11524, the Bureau of Treasury must transfer from the accumulated coconut levy fund and assets at least P75 in the next five years to the CFITF in the following tranches: P10 billion each this year and in 2022; P15 billion each on 2023 and 2024; and P25 billion in 2025 plus any amount accruing, including interest of the coconut levy, in the special account in the general fund.

The law also orders the creation of a management committee tasked to set the investment priorities for the coconut industry with regards to the release and utilization of CFITF.

That management committee should be composed of authorized representatives from the DOF, DBM, and DOJ. The DOF is the manager of the Trust Fund.

The committee is also tasked to set the trust fund’s investment themes, asset allocation, and policies; evaluate assets; issue guidelines for portfolio turnover and CFITF management expenses; set annual allocation of the CFITF; and approve financial requirements.

But according to FFF Secretary-General Dioscoro A. Granada, coconut farmers “have the moral and legal right to be consulted on the fate” of the CFITF.

“Coconut farmers paid the coconut levies [which also benefited certain corporations],” Granada said. “[These] assets are supposed to benefit them directly.”

Granada was referring to firms including the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), the Coconut Industry Investment Fund – Oil Mills Group (CIIF-OMG), the United Coconut Planters Life Assurance Corporation (COCOLIFE), the UCPB General Insurance Company (COCOGEN), the United Coconut Chemicals Corporation (COCOCHEM), and others.

Source: Manila Bulletin (