Duterte’s veto of Philippine Coconut Authority bill surprises Tañada » Manila Bulletin News

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Duterte’s veto of Philippine Coconut Authority bill surprises Tañada

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By Raymund Antonio

Otso Diretso senatorial candidate Erin Tañada questioned President Rodrigo Duterte’s veto of the bill strengthening the Philippine Coconut Authority despite his campaign promise to prioritize the return of the coco levy fund.

Erin Tañada (MANILA BULLETIN)

Erin Tañada (MANILA BULLETIN)

Tañada, who was a lawmaker, said it was surprising that the President turned down the measure.

“Nagulat nga po tayo sa naging desisyon ng ating Pangulo sa pag-veto nitong bill,” he said on Vice President Leni Robredo’s weekly radio show.

“[Ang coco levy fund] ay parating nagiging priority legislation ng mga pangulo. At ito’y binanggit ng ating Pangulo noong unang SONA (State of the Nation Address) po niya, na talagang kailangan tulungan ang ating coconut farmers,” he continued.

A long-time advocate for farmers’ rights and development, the ex-Quezon congressman lamented how the sector continues to suffer from poverty despite being among the producers of food in the country.

“Ang parating iniisip po ng ating gobyerno at ng ating mga opisyal sa Department of Agriculture, production and harvest. Hindi nila tinitingnan ang income ng farmers,” he said.

“Kung sinasabi nila, ‘Umunlad ba ang kabuhayan ng mga magsasaka?’ Kausapin mo ang mga magsasaka, sasabihin nila hindi. Breakeven lang. So ano iyong rason kung bakit, at iyon ang kailangang bigyan natin ng pansin,” Tañada stressed.

He was saddened by President’s veto, saying it was unfortunate, given many years of promise to pass such legislation.

“Nakakalungkot nga itong proseso sa paggawa ng batas tungkol dito, mayroon po tayong ideal … At ito rin ay masasabi po natin na watered down na. Pero tuloy pa rin, sige, basta magamit natin para matulungan ang ating industriya,” the former lawmaker said.

“Itong bicameral conference committee report, nakaayos na … Tapos puno’t dulo, wala pa ring nangyayari. Iyon ang nakakalungkot dito,” he added.

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