P56.5-B coco levy funds vulnerable to plunder

FARMERS groups today expressed alarm on the P56.5 coco levy funds now in the hands of the government saying “small coconut farmers cannot trust the Aquino administration to administer their money.”

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the Kaisahang Pambansa ng mga Magsasaka sa Koprahan (KOPRAHAN) issued the statement after San Miguel Corporation (SMC) bought back the 24 percent coco levy funds converted into the 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 P56.5 billion was remitted by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to the National Treasury on Friday.

“We are raising the alarm because our money is now in the hands of the Aquino government. Our money is now very vulnerable to corruption. It is highly probable that the money plundered by Danding Cojuangco will be plundered again,” says KMP deputy secretary general Willy Marbella, a small coconut farmer from Bicol who still holds his father’s certificate of stocks in various coconut oil mills acquired through the coco levy funds.

“Like we said before, we cannot entrust our money to the Aquino government,” said Marbella.

“The only assurance that the money will go back to small coconut farmers is to ensure that the funds would be administered and managed by small coconut farmers themselves, and not through corrupt government agencies like the DA, NAPC, and DSWD,” said Marbella, referring to the members of the Presidential Task Force on the Coco Levy Funds created by President Aquino.

The peasant leader said “it is high-time that small coconut farmers, the legitimate owners of the funds, to benefit.”

“We demand the distribution of cash to small coconut farmers. The coco levy funds were forcibly exacted from us by Marcos and Aquino’s uncle Danding. We are not incidental beneficiaries here, we should be given what we deserve,” Marbella said.


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