President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signs into law the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Act of 2021 at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on February 26, 2021. The said law would expedite the procurement and administration of vaccines for the protection against COVID-19. It also covers the creation of an indemnity fund to cover compensation for those who would experience serious adverse effects to the vaccine. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Feb 27 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a measure creating a trust fund for coconut farmers.

Republic Act (RA) 11524 or the Coconut Farmer and Industry Act, inked by Duterte on Friday, mandates the maintenance of the Trust Fund for 50 years under the Coconut Farmers in Industry Development Plan that will be formulated.

The development plan will be prepared by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and approved by the President.

The new law also reconstitutes and strengthens the PCA, an independent state corporation created under Presidential Decree 1468, to ensure the participation of coconut farmers in the crafting and implementation of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan.

The PCA will be chaired by the agriculture secretary and vice-chaired by the finance secretary. Other members are the secretaries of budget, science and technology, and trade departments; PCA administrator; and three members from the coconut farmers sector representing Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund, according to the law, will be used for the benefit of the coconut farmers and the development of the coconut industry.

RA 11524 states that the Trust Fund is separate from the regular funds appropriated to the PCA through the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA).

“As such, the PCA shall continue to pursue its mandate of implementing programs and projects from the regular GAA appropriations and from funds under the Trust Fund,” the law read.

The Bureau of the Treasury is directed to immediately transfer PHP10 billion to the Trust Fund upon the enactment of RA 11524, and another PHP10 billion for the second year, and PHP15 billion each for the third and fourth years.

On the fifth year, about PHP25 billion and any amount accruing, including interest, in the special account in the general fund will be transferred to the Trust Fund.

For the formulation of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan, the PCA will be given an allocation of PHP5 million.

The law also creates a Trust Fund Management Committee composed of authorized representatives of the finance, budget, and justice departments.

The committee is tasked to set investment priorities, investment themes, asset allocation, and policies; evaluate assets; issue guidelines for portfolio turnover and trust fund management expenses; set annual allocation of the Trust Fund; and approve financial requirements.

The Palace released a copy of  RA 11524 on Friday night. (MNS)

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