CL farmers demand distribution of coco levy fund to farmers

FARMERS belonging to Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (Amgl, Farmers’ Alliance in Central Luzon), Panlalawigang Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Aurora (Pamana, Provincial Alliance of Farmers in Aurora) and Anakpawis Partylist-Central Luzon demand the distribution of P56.5 billion coconut levy which is now on the government’s treasury bureau.

The fund was remitted by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and sourced from the sale of the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIFF) shares in San Miguel Corp. (SMC). San Miguel owned by Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Jr. bought the said shares which compose 24% of the total coconut levy fund.

“We demand the immediate distribution of the coco levy funds and the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) chaired by Akbayan leader Joel Rocamora should stop the immoral plan of using about P11. 17 billion through his Poverty Reduction Roadmap of the Coconut Industry or the Coco Roadmap,” Joseph Canlas said, AMGL chairperson and Anakpawis-CL regional coordinator.

“Everybody knows that the coco levy was unjustly excised from the country’s coconut farmers during the Marcos dictatorship, and his crony Danding Cojuangco, the president’s uncle, gravely exploited it,” he added.

The groups said that the fund was extracted by the Marcos dictatorship through Republic Act 6260 or the Coconut Investment Act (cocofund) and Presidential Decree 276 or the Coconut Consumers Stabilization Fund (CCSF) from 1973 to 1982.

The cocofund was sourced by excising P0.55 per 100 kg of copra, while CSSF was at P15 per 100 kg that reached to P100 per 100 kg in 1982. In 1975, the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) was established from the fund excised from coconut farmers.

The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Philippine Coconut Producers Federation (Cocofed) and UCPB managed the fund.

“It is very clear that the coco levy fund belongs to the coconut farmers, fund vultures such as Akbayan leader Joel Rocamora, as well as Aquino, have no right to use it,” Canlas said.

The groups said that Rocamora’s Coco Roadmap plans to use the P11.17 billion broken down as (1) agro-enterprise development budgeted with P4.56 B, (2) agrarian reform P317,000, (3) social protection 2.54 B, (4) institutional reform P2.94 B, and (5) monitoring and evalution P1 B.

“These so-called programs are Akbayan’s template of corruption. Social protection which is none other than conditional cash transfer (CCT) and other corruption-ridden programs since the Arroyo adminstration. Coconut farmers have every right to ram the gates of NAPC office the moment they embezzle the coco levy fund,” Canlas said.

The groups demanded cash distribution to the coconut farmers as this is fair and reasonable to compensate for the injustice and exploitation they endured during the Marcos dictatorship. Aside from the P56.5 B sale of CIFF share in SMC, they also called for the called for the distribution of Cojuangco’s 20% share which was funded by the coco levy.

“Aquino is a total fraud, promising to cut down graft and corruption, but scheming to use the coco levy fund,” Canlas said.

The groups joined the protest in Mendiola led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Anakpawis Partylist, together with farmers from Southern Tagalog and Bicol region.

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