Coco Levy Bill Vetoed on Lack of SafeguardsThursday, February 14, 2019
The coconut levy bill presented for signing by President Rodrigo Duterte last January was vetoed. Malacañang has urged Congress to craft a better law that would protect public funds from irregularities. In his veto message dated February 8, Duterte said the bill lacked “vital safeguards to avoid the repetition of painful mistakes in the past.” The measure, he added, did not reflect the ultimate goal of accelerating the full use of coconut levy assets and funds for the benefit of coconut farmers and the coconut industry. He did not provide specifics.
“The veto of the bill will give Congress more time and opportunity to improve the formulation of the Philippine Coconut Authority and the distribution of coco levy funds. The veto by (President Duterte) of the legislative measure is a reflection of the principled stand of this administration in promoting good governance and public accountability,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
Some lawmakers said that farmers and other stakeholders would have to work hard and fast to come up with a new measure that will allow them to benefit from the P100-billion coco levy fund. Sen. Cynthia Villar, principal sponsor of the measure, said it was unfortunate that Duterte did not sign the bill into law. “However this does not mean that all hopes are lost for our 3.5 million coconut farmers who have waited for decades to benefit from the coconut levy funds,” said Villar, who chairs the Senate committee on agriculture and food. She said she was willing to work with the President to come up with a new bill.