PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed an executive order (EO) that will implement the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP).

The development plan sets the direction for national programs establishing community-based enterprises and providing social protections for coconut farmers, farm workers, and their families.

According to the EO, the government must “consolidate the benefits due to coconut farmers, especially the poor and marginalized, under various statutes, and expedite the delivery thereof, to attain increased incomes for coconut farmers, alleviate poverty, and achieve social equality.”

“The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) consulted concerned government agencies, coconut farmers, including their organizations, industry associations, civil society groups, the academe, and other stakeholders in the formulation of the plan,” according to the order, signed on June 2 and made public on June 8.

In a separate statement, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said that the approval of the plan represents the “next step” in the coconut industry’s rehabilitation, modernization, and industrialization.

“Overall, the CFIDP is expected to alleviate poverty and achieve the twin goals of rehabilitating and modernizing the coconut industry to attain social equity,” the DA said.

The EO sets in motion future disbursements to the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund. The fund consists of coconut levy assets, which were declared state property by the Supreme Court.

The trust fund will receive P75 billion over the next five years and will be distributed in accordance with the CFIDP. The initial allocation to the trust fund is set at P10 billion.

“After more than four decades of waiting, the law for the management and utilization of the coco levy fund that was enacted last year will now be finally implemented in fulfillment of Mr. Duterte’s campaign promise to our coconut farmers,” PCA Administrator Benjamin R. Madrigal, Jr. added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson