Coco levy fund ‘misspent’ long time ago
In the last three administrations, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) did nothing for the coconut agroindustry, its farmers and workers. During the Estrada, Arroyo and Aquino (Noynoy) presidencies, the PCA further became a bastion of corruption, fattening the wallets of officials of the PCA, the Department of Agriculture and related agencies.
Until today, PCA officials appear to be mainly concerned about controlling—and milking—the coconut levy fund. In Arroyo’s time, an added source of “milk” for officials was coco lumber, as the cocolisap infestation in Calabarzon led to the issuance of tree-cutting permits. In Aquino’s time, officials found another milking cow: commissions from the importation of chemicals to be used for getting rid of cocolisap. While all these benefited officials, this pushed coconut farmers and workers into deeper desperation. It seems that the PCA is one area where President Duterte’s promise of change isn’t being felt.
Today, a bitter leadership struggle engulfs the PCA. If and when this is resolved, whoever wins may find that the coco levy fund had been misspent long ago. Meantime, no one in the PCA or even in the whole government, looks for ways to improve coconut cultivation, introduce manufacturing options, develop finished products, and imagine other innovations that could allow over 20 million Filipinos involved with coconuts to enjoy a long-promised inclusive economic growth.
Let’s hope something good will come to the Mindanao coconut farmers and industry with the “martial law” declaration. Martial law should have been declared for the entire coconut industry a long time ago.
JOSE Z. OSIAS,