PCA official eyes lifting of TRO on coconut levy disbursement
The chief of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) expects the scrapping of the temporary restraining order on the disbursement of the coco levy fund as farmers groups have expressed intention to withdraw their petition filed in the Supreme Court.
PCA Administrator Avelino Andal Wednesday said representatives of the Confederation of Coconut Farmer’s Organizations of the Philippines (Confed) told him in a recent meeting that they were willing to take the necessary steps to withdraw their petition that prompted the issuance of the TRO.
“I am extremely happy for the coconut farmers and the industry that one of the seemingly major stumbling block to the early disposition of the coco levy fund is, hopefully, finally resolved with the Confed declaration of withdrawal of its petition,” Andal said.
Andal said he and Confed representatives came to an agreement on what needs to be done for the benefit of all the coconut farmers.
“With these development, President Duterte can now dispose without much legal impediment considering that he promised the electorate, the farmers in particular, that he will release the coco levy fund in 30 days,” the official added.
In September, Sen. Francis Pangilinan—who chairs the Senate committee on agriculture and food—said the money and assets collected from farmers from 1973 to 1982 had reached P75.4 billion, citing data from the Presidential Commission on Good Government.
Pangilinan has filed the proposed Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act, which he described as a repackaging of the Coco Levy Trust Fund bill that failed to pass in the previous Congress.
He said the bill “proposes a complete accounting and inventory of the coco levy assets” and their conversion into “a perpetual trust fund that will be used for the development of the coconut industry without using the principal.”
In June 2015, the Supreme Court issued a TRO—effective until further orders—against the implementation of Executive Orders Nos. 179 and 180.
EO 179 requires the inventory and privatization of all coconut levy assets—pegged then at P74.3 billion—as well as their and reconveyance in favor of the government.
EO 180 also mandates the immediate transfer of these assets to the government, and further designates its use spelled out in the Integrated Coconut Industry Roadmap and the Roadmap for Coco Levy.