Coco farmers blame PNoy for PCGG’s demise

THE militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the claimants’ movement Coco Levy Funds Ibalik sa Amin (CLAIM) today blamed President Aquino for the Philippine Commission on Good Government (PCGG) failure to go after the Marcoses and their cronies like Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. and dared the commission to work for the return of the multi-billion coco levy funds to small coconut farmers.

The KMP also warned that highly unacceptable sweetheart deals, like what happened to the coco levy funds, could be behind the Aquino administration’s efforts to shut down the PCGG.

“The PCGG’s demise is rooted from Aquino’s lack of seriousness to go after the Marcoses and their cronies like Danding,” said KMP deputy secretary general Willy Marbella.

Marbella, also CLAIM national coordinator, said “the Marcoses and their cronies have long regained political and economic power and even enjoys protection from the Aquino administration.”

“Marcos cronies who feasted over the coco levy funds, like Danding, (Senate President Juan Ponce) Enrile, are everywhere in the Aquino government,” the peasant leader said.

The peasant leader noted that the ties between the Aquinos and Danding Cojuangco were strained during the Marcos dictatorship. Danding was one of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ cronies, who controlled the coconut industry.

“Danding’s control over the 20 percent coco levy funds in SMC further strengthened immediately after the Aquinos and Danding renewed their ties during the 2010 elections,” Marbella said.  “This clearly demonstrates that Aquino is not sincere in pursuing the coco levy funds much more in returning the money to small coconut farmers, the legitimate owners of the funds.”

The KMP and CLAIM are pushing for the immediate cash distribution of the coco levy funds in the form of “social benefits to small coconut farmers, like pension, medical, and educational benefits, among others.”

Reports cited that “to date, the PCGG has recovered $4 billion (P164 billion) of the $10 billion worth of real estate, investment bank accounts, and shareholdings said to be stolen by the Marcoses and their cronies.”

“The PCGG should not stop at recovery efforts alone. They should work for the return of the coco levy funds to the small coconut farmers and the compensation of victims of human rights violations,” he said.

“It seems that highly unacceptable sweetheart deals with the Marcoses, like what is now happening to the coco levy funds is among the main reason behind Aquino’s move to shut down the PCGG,” Marbella said adding: “We challenge the PCGG to side with small coconut farmers and work for the return of the coco levy funds and assets to its legitimate and rightful owners, the 3.5 million small coconut farmers,” Marbella dared.

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