The Senate on Monday (March 8) approved on final reading a bill declaring Davao City as the “Chocolate Capital of the Philippines” and Region IX or the Davao Region as “Cacao Capital of the Philippines.” 

Senators voted 22-0-1 in favor of Senate Bill 1741, which recognizes 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 U.S., Japan and Europe.”

Sen. Cynthia Villar, who sponsored the bill, said earlier that the recognition could also help other industries “do their best.”

“This is just a recognition of a ‘job well done.’ [I]f they see that people will be recognized…maybe they will do better,” Villar said on Feb. 16.

Villar, chairperson of the Senate agriculture committee, pointed out that Davao produces about 80 percent of the country’s cacao supply, based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The region also hosts some 20,000 hectares of cacao plantations, the senator said.

Villar cited the Davao-based company Malagos Chocolate, which has won around 42 international awards for its chocolate products.

Sen. Pilar Juliana “Pia” Cayetano however said the bill could be “disincentivizing” to other cacao-producing regions. 

Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III also questioned the financial grants mentioned in an earlier version of the bill. 

Villar said she would consider Cayetano’s concern. She also said the bill would not include financial grants. Ian Gabriel Trinidad