DOF warns against ‘double-dipping’ for crop insurance for coconut farmers

Treasury Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III directed the Inter-Ministerial Trust Fund Management Committee (TFMC) to take action against the “double use” of public resources to provide health and crop insurance to 2.5 million coconut farmers.

Dominguez, who chairs the current TFMC, said the next group of the interministerial committee should provide “commercially viable” and “sustainable” health and crop insurance for coconut farmers in accordance with Republic Act (RA) 11524 or the Farmers and Industries Act. coconuts. Trust Funds Act (CFITF). The TFMC is tasked with overseeing the use of the Coconut Fee Trust Fund.

At the last meeting of the TFMC under the Duterte administration, Dominguez said the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation is being given a minimum of 200 million pesos annually. (PCIC) to insure the crops of coconut farmers in accordance with the CFITF Act and the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan approved by the President. In addition, an additional 500 million pesos has been allocated to Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to manage a health and medical program for coconut farmers and their families.

“As a trust fund management committee, we must ensure that there is no dual use of funds so that crop insurance and health insurance for coconut farmers must come only from the coconut fees trust fund,” Dominguez said during the meeting. last June 16th.

Double dipping is the unethical practice of filing two lawsuits for the same incident.

Budget Undersecretary Kim De Leon agreed with Dominguez and assured him that the budget department would review budget proposals from PCIC, PhilHealth, and other government agencies receiving CFITF appropriations “to ensure there is no double dip in funds.”

To make crop insurance coverage for coconut farmers sustainable, Dominguez recommended that insurance premiums charged by the PCIC take into account specific geographic and meteorological risks and include reinsurance arrangements with the private sector “to reduce the financial burden on the coconut harvesting trust fund” .

Dominguez, who served as Minister of Agriculture during the administration of former President Corazon Aquino, also expressed gratitude to the members of the TFMC for their “tremendous contribution to the eventual implementation and correction of the historic mistake made to coconut farmers in the country.”

At the same meeting, the Bureau of the Treasury reported that TFMC had received from the Land Bank of the Philippines a Certificate of Indebtedness with a principal amount of 1,121,141,234.00 pesos at a fixed interest rate of 1.75 percent per annum for the sale of government shares. at the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB).

He also received 102,739,676.87 pesos in cash from the sale of contested UCPB shares and rights.

These shares have been classified by the President’s Commission on Good Governance (PCGG) as Coco Levy assets under RA 11524.

Proceeds from disputed shares will be deposited in a segregated escrow account in accordance with the Rules and Regulations Enacting Regulations (IRR) sections 9-11 of RA 11524, which states that a disputed Coco Levy non-monetary asset may be realized pending a dispute. provided that the proceeds are deposited and held in an escrow account.

The CFITF also stipulates that non-monetary assets collected from coconut must be privatized or sold, and the proceeds from them must be added to a trust fund for the benefit of coconut farmers.

According to the Ministry of Finance, the President’s Commission on Good Government (PCGG) previously reported that the value of coconut tax assets was 113.88 billion pesos as of December 2020, but the Audit Commission found that it was inflated by 2.63 pesos. billion, and its adjusted amount was 111.25 billion pesos.

President-elect Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., who has announced that he will lead the Department of Agriculture (DA), will chair the board of the Philippine Coconut Authority, the government agency tasked with implementing the coconut trust fund. law.

The coconut levy came from taxes levied on coconut farmers during the reign of the late dictator and former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. ostensibly to develop the coconut industry.

However, the PCGG argued that the funds were instead used to create corporations for Marcos’ friends for their personal gain.