MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill declaring Davao City as chocolate capital and the entire Davao Region as the Philippines' cacao capital.
Voting 22-0-1, senators passed Senate Bill No. 1741, which seeks to "recognize Davao as the country's biggest producer of cacao and its vital contribution in making the Philippines world-renowned and sought-after by chocolate makers from the United States, Japan, and Europe."
Senator Cynthia Villar, the sponsor of the bill as chairperson of the Senate agriculture panel, cited data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, which showed that approximately 78.76 percent of cacao's annual production in the Philippines comes from the Davao Region.
More than 20,000 hectares of cacao farms in the region, and Davao City has the largest area, she added.
"The Philippines has about 15,000 cocoa farmers nationwide. The bill hopes to make Davao City and the Davao Region become an inspiration and a benchmark to motivate other local government units to emulate," Villar said.
Villar also noted that Davao City is home to Malagos Chocolate, which has won 28 international awards.
According to the senator, the brand was also designated as one of the 16 heirloom cacaos in the world by the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund, which is an initiative of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association.
Villar, meanwhile, stressed that the bill is not intended to give any special financial assistance or privileges to the city and the region.
She said the one-page bill would give recognition for the pioneering and outstanding collective contribution of the cacao farmers, mostly smallholder farmers supplying dry cacao beans to mostly small to medium-scale enterprises and manufacturers locally and abroad.
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