By ALI G. MACABALANG
Chief of Correspondents
(NOTE: Attached is a photo of a subsistent coconut farmer working in the foreground of his family members.)
COTABATO CITY – Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol is asking the President to lift the Marcos-era ban on the export of mature coconuts and issue a special permit in Mindanao, even as he believed that the Bangsamoro government can lift the ban on the basis of its autonomous power.
“We are re-submitting our recommendation to the President, noting that if we want to restart the economy, we can direct focus on our coconut farmers who are actually among the sectors affected by the pandemic,” Piñol said in a recent statement.
He added that “since there is a standing order for the green and brown and young coconuts outside of the country, let’s work on that as we appeal that Mindanao be given special permit.”
He said the 1985 Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1106 should be lifted especially that the coconut farmers were greatly affected of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
In August 2019, after assuming the MinDA leadership, Piñol mentioned having asked Executive Secretary Medialdea for the lifting of the Marcos-era decree.
He said unless the Marcos decree is lifted, coconut farmers in the country – who had been reeling from the effects of low copra prices due to the influx of other alternative cooking oils – would not be able to take advantage of mature coconut market.
He told reporters that in the United States, a piece of matured coconut commands a price of at least one dollar or 57 pesos.
Piñol believed that lifting or repealing the Marcos decree would mostly benefit coconut farmers in Mindanao as well as the people of the Bangsamoro region.
“This is what to look at when prioritizing our programs. It will have an immediate effect where people can directly benefit and would restart the economy. My point is, if we take an immediate action on this, there will be an immediate effect. If our coconut farmers can export, they will really earn unlike if they market it locally, the price is very low,” Piñol said.
In November 2018, the Philippine Coconut Authority’s (PCA) Governing Board, chaired by Piñol who was then Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA) approved a resolution that would request the interagency committee on Executive Order 1016, s. 1985 to lift the ban on mature coconut exports.
EO 1016 mandated the creation of an interagency committee which will annually update the list of prohibited products for export being implemented by the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
The EO stipulates that matured coconuts and coconut seedlings are some of the products that are not allowed for export. (AGM)