Coco farmers rage for coco levy funds
“WE toil and work hard for the future of our children, demanding for the government’s support just to discover how much greed these people in power have. We challenge NAPC to give a categorical answer regarding our money or else expect anything from us,” said an angry Mylene Zantua, spokesperson of Pinagkaisang Lakas ng mga Magsasaka sa Quezon (PIGLAS-Quezon).
Zantua is referring to the coco levy fund that was reportedly channeled to the National Anti-Poverty Commission.
The Presidential Task Force on the Coco Levy Funds headed by NAPC is pushing for the P11.17 billion five-year “Poverty Reduction Roadmap of the Coconut Industry” that includes the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)” and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), and so-called agro-enterprise development.
After two consecutive attempts of coconut farmers from Southern Tagalog to seek dialogue with NAPC, they were just shooed away by security guards. Rank-and-file staff faced them but they got nothing from the commission which was headed by Joel Rocamora.
Yesterday, at least 300 farmers from the province of Quezon once again stormed NAPC, literally gatecrashing in front of the Department of Agriculture that house NAPC.
A certain Oyen Dorotan met with the farmers after they held a sit-in protest in front of NAPC office. Dorotan, who never gave her designation, said she can not answer the farmers’ inquiry. Instead, she exchanged telephone numbers with the angry protestors and said that a dialogue will be scheduled with Rocamora.
Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) today found out that Dorotan is the Undersecratary of NAPC.
“This is blatant corruption in the making,” said Orly Marcellana, spokesperson of Kasama-TK, adding “NAPC indeed will be misrepresenting the poor and other marginalized. Rocamora is already a part of Aquino’s ruling clique who exploit and let the toiling masses die of hunger, joblessness, landlessness, and human rights abuse by state forces.
“What can we expect from an office that is being headed by an Akbayan leader?” added Marcellana pertaining to the recent word war between Akbayan and militant groups identified with the national democratic left.
“We particularly congratulate Akbayan for consistently siding with the haciendero republic. Akbayan is one of the staunch advocates of promoting anti-farmer and anti-people policies of the government. In fact, Akbayan keeps bragging CARP Extension with Reforms as one of their most successful programs. Do they not realize that this pride immediately admits them as anti-peasant?” Marcellana stressed.
The farmers from Southern Tagalog ended their week-long protest with a lightning rally in front of the President’s house in Times Street. They later joined a bigger rally in Mendiola and staged a “Koprahang Bayan” to dramatize the plight of small coconut farmers in the region