Duterte vetoes coconut farmers, industry trust fund as it violates Constitution, may disproportionately benefit wealthy farmers
President Rodrigo Duterte has vetoed the enrolled bill creating the coconut farmers and industry trust fund, providing for its management and utilization.
In the veto message, a copy of which was released on Monday, Duterte has raised "serious concerns" on the bill.
"After much deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that the bill may be violative of the Constitution and is lacking in vital safeguards to avoid the repetition of painful mistakes committed in the past," Duterte said.
Duterte questioned the establishment of an effectively perpetual Trust Fund in the bill.
He said this would violate Section 29(3), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, which provides that, "All money collected on any tax levied for a special purpose shall be treated as a special fund and paid out for such purpose only."
If the purpose for which the special fund was created has been fulfilled or abandoned, the balance, if any shall be transferred to the general fund of the government, the Constitution states.
Duterte also expressed concern that the absence of a limit on a covered land area for entitlement to the benefits of the Trust Fund "may disproportionately benefit wealthy coconut farm owners more than the smallholder farmers who desperately need the government's affirmative assistance."
He also questioned the "broad powers" given to the Philippine Coconut Authority, saying this would undermine relevant regulations and safeguards that were established precisely to avoid abuses.
Duterte said he regrets to exercise his veto power on the enrolled bill because it was part of the common legislative agenda of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council.
But he expressed hope that Congress and the Executive would continue working together to formulate relevant bill that is "acceptable to all."
Duterte earlier vetoed the enrolled bill to further strengthen the PCA because it was prone to corruption. Celerina Monte/DMS