Nominations open for farmer representatives to coconut regulator’s board

coconut levy
PHILSTAR

THE PHILIPPINE Coconut Authority (PCA) said it has opened the nomination process for the three farmer representatives to the PCA board.

PCA Administrator Benjamin R. Madrigal, Jr. said in a statement Tuesday that copies of the proposed nomination and selection process have been distributed to the PCA’s regional and provincial offices.

“We encourage our coconut farmers, as the direct beneficiaries of Republic Act No. 11524 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, to ensure that they participate in the consultation and more particularly, in the nomination process — to ensure that we get the most qualified farmer-representatives,” Mr. Madrigal said.

“While there is no designated timeline on the designation of farmer representatives … the PCA hopes to have the three farmer representatives to the PCA Board the soonest time possible,” he added.

Under the law, farmer representatives — one from Luzon, one from Visayas, and another from Mindanao — must sit on the PCA board.

“The law requires that the farmer representatives be appointed by the President from a list of four nominees from each island group,” the PCA said.

The farmer representatives will be joined in the PCA board by the Secretaries of Agriculture, Finance, Budget, Science and Technology, and Trade, as well as the PCA administrator.

“The proposed nomination and selection process by the PCA involves the collective voting of coconut farmers as a coconut farmer organization, association, or a cooperative, from provincial to regional and eventually, island-wide nomination,” the PCA said.

According to the PCA, nominees must be Filipino citizens registered with the national coconut farmers registry system; possess not more than five hectares of land over the last 10 years; have a track record in promoting coconut farmers’ interests and welfare; and be nominated by coconut farmer organizations or cooperatives that have been active in the past three years in farmer organization or community enterprise development.

Signed on Feb. 26, RA 11524 will deploy coconut levy funds to support a development plan to be drafted by the PCA.

The programs will include farmer training, research, the development of hybrid farms, and credit expansion. In previous statements, the PCA said the fund will benefit 2.5 million coconut farmers.

The law requires the Bureau of the Treasury to transfer P10 billion to the trust fund in the first year, P10 billion in the second, P15 billion in the third, P15 billion in the fourth, and P25 billion in the fifth.

Former President Ferdinand E. Marcos and his associates imposed the coconut levy on farmers, promising to develop the industry with the proceeds as well as a share of the investment returns.

However, the money was diverted to purchase corporate assets like the United Coconut Planters Bank and San Miguel Corp. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave