Coconut farmers demand cash distribution of the 24% coconut levy fund
THE militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the Kaisahang Pambansa ng mga Magsasaka sa Koprahan (Koprahan) today demanded the Aquino administration to immediately distribute cash to millions of small coconut farmers after the 24 percent of the controversial coco levy funds is now out of the corporate control of San Miguel Corp. chaired by President Aquino’s uncle, Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr.
“Now that the 24 percent of the coco levy funds is free from Danding’s control, we demand the Aquino government to immediately pave the way for the money’s immediate return to small coconut farmers,” says KMP deputy secretary general Willie Marbella.
The KMP and Koprahan issued the demand after SMC advised the disclosure department of the Philippine Stock Exchange of the Notice of Cancellation of Stock Certificates of Series “1” Preferred Shares, effective October 5, 2012, the redemption date of said Preferred Shares.
The Series “1” Preferred Shares represents the original 27 percent, now diluted to 24 percent, of SMC common shares ordered converted into preferred shares by the Supreme Court then headed by Chief Justice Reynato Puno in 2009. The order also stipulated that SMC will have the exclusive option to redeem and purchase on the third year (2012) the 27 percent comprising 753.85 million shares at a fixed price of P75 per share instead of at the prevailing market price.
The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) remitted yesterday P56.5 billion to the National Treasury representing SMC’s payment for 24-percent sequestered stock that the firm bought back after the shares.
“Instead of paying the small coconut farmers’ shares at the prevailing market price, Danding with the help of the SC converted the common shares into preferred shares and bought it at a fixed price of P75 instead of the prevailing market price,” Marbella said noting that “as of 30 November 2010, the value of said common share is pegged at P120.”
“Obviously, Danding still profited billions from this politico-legal-financial masterstroke of former CJ and now SMC director Reynato Puno,” says Marbella, also Koprahan spokesperson.
“With the funds out of Danding’s control, it is high-time that small coconut farmers benefit from the coco levy funds. The distribution of cash to small coconut farmers is long overdue,” Marbella said.
“But small coconut farmers should remain vigilant and intensify the struggle for the recovery of the coco levy funds because our money is not safe with Aquino and his coco levy fund mafia’s hands,” Marbella said referring to the Presidential Task Force on the Coco Levy Funds.
The Task Force is headed by National Anti-Poverty Commission secretary Joel Rocamora who confirmed earlier this year that the Aquino administration would set up an inter-agency group, along with the NAPC and the DSWD to borrow off the coco levy funds.