CEBU

Cacao coops oppose bill making Davao ‘choco, cacao capital’

MAJOR cacao cooperatives in the country have expressed their strong opposition to Senate Bill (SB) 1741 that seeks to declare Davao City as the “Chocolate Capital of the Philippines” and Region 11 (Davao Region) as the “Cacao Capital of the Philippines.”

Consul Armi Lopez-Garcia, chairperson of the Philippine Cacao Industry Council (PCIC), said an estimated 13 cacao cooperatives aren’t supporting the bill.

A Senate hearing of SB 1741 was held Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021.

“The Senate threw it back to the bicameral committee which means that the two houses, the Senate and the Congress, should agree,” she said.

House Bill 7460 entitled “An act to declare the city of Davao as the chocolate and cacao production capital of the Philippines and for other purposes,” filed by Deputy Speaker Conrado Estrella, III on Aug. 25, 2020 was passed by the House of Representatives on Jan. 18, 2021. The bill is now known as SB 1741.

Garcia said the PCIC received more resolutions in opposition to the bill, most of them from Zamboanga del Norte.

According to Garcia, the bill should not be legislated because there might soon be a region that might overtake the Davao production.

“Davao may have an edge because they are first, but what about those regions who responded to the call?” she said.

In 2016, the government officially launched as a national policy the development of the cacao industry across the whole country. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture and the Philippine Coconut Authority were mandated to call a series of industry consultations in all the 15 political regions of the country to formulate a “Cacao Industry Roadmap” for the whole Philippines.

“The government policy mandates the development of the cacao industry across all 15 political regions of the country. Yet SB 1741 favors only one city, Davao City in Region 11, to the exclusion even of the other five provinces of Region 11: Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental and Davao Oriental,” PCIC’s position paper said.

Garcia said if the bill will be legislated, majority of the support services, financial or marketing, will be funneled to Davao.

“It should be funneled to the different regions that have responded to the call and need more assistance. This is putting other regions at a disadvantage as far as marketing is concerned,” she said.

“In order for the national policy to succeed, incentives and benefits should be granted to all regions. To grant only Davao City that special support will undermine and subvert a very important national policy.

In fact, it is the other fledgling regions of the country that need the government’s special and sustained financial, technical, marketing and other necessary assistance rather than Davao City,” the PCIC said.

The thrust of the PCIC, she said, is to put and to promote the Philippine cacao and chocolate in the world map, not the Davao region but the Philippines.

“We have to be one in promoting it as Philippine Cacao and Philippine Chocolate,” she said.

Sponsorship

SB 1741 has earned the support of Sens. Cynthia Villar and Ronald dela Rosa.

Quoting the Philippine Statistics Authority, Villar said approximately 78.76 percent of annual production of cacao in the Philippines came from the Davao region composed of Davao del Sur, Davao City,

Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, and Davao de Oro and Davao Occidental. She said they are the top five producers in terms of volume of production.

According to Villar, the bill simply gives recognition for the pioneering, outstanding collective contribution of the cacao farmers who supply dry cacao beans to the processors and manufacturers. (JOB WITH KOC)

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