Bill adding farmers to PCA board hurdles House panel

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A BILL including coconut farmer representatives to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) board was approved at committee level at the House of Representatives.

The House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization on Wednesday passed a consolidated bill deriving from House Bills 8079 and 8052, intended to serve as a companion bill of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Trust Fund Act, which regulates the disposal of coconut levy funds.“I always thought it should be the farmers that should decide on how to dispose of or what projects to invest in,” Deputy Speaker Sharon S. Garin said at the committee meeting.

Without the overhaul of the PCA board, Ms. Garin said coconut farmers will not have the power to decide on fund allocations. The PCA Board currently does not include members representing farmers.

She added that the more important concern was the procedure to be adopted for selecting qualified farmer representatives.

The committee settled one key discrepancy in the two source bills — which is the number of farmer representatives on the board, settling on six instead of seven.

The bill authored by Agriculture and Food Committee chair Jose T. Panganiban Jr., HB 8079, proposed two representatives each from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.

HB 8052, authored by Representative Ramon V.A. Rocamora, proposed seven representatives, with two each from Luzon and the Visayas and three from Mindanao.

Lanao del Norte Rep. Mohamad Khalid Q. Dimaporo argued there should be more representatives in Mindanao, considering it is “producing 60% of coconut production.”

“If we look at the other bill (HB 8052), 2 for Luzon, 2 for Visayas, and 2 for Mindanao plus the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) roughly, we have a better figure of 42%,” Mr. Dimaporo explained.

This, however, was not adopted by the committee, citing a need to be consistent with the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Trust Fund Act.

In addition to the farmer representatives, the PCA Board will also include among its members the Administrator of the PCA, and the Secretaries of Agriculture, Finance, and Trade and Industry. A representative from the coconut industry sector shall also be included.

Its counterpart measure, Senate Bill 1913, authored by Senator Cynthia A. Villar, remains pending at the Committee level. — Charmaine A. Tadalan