SEN. MARCOS DEPLORES EFFORTS TO WREST COCO LEVY FUNDS CONTROL FROM COCONUT FARMERS
Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. slammed the persistent efforts of the administration to wrest control of the coconut levy funds of over P70 billion from coconut farmers.
Marcos cited the call of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima for the immediate transfer of the coco levy funds to the National Treasury and the San Miguel Corporation shares and their proceeds not yet transferred to the National Treasury.
De Lima made the call after the Supreme Court junked the petition of UCPB and United Coconut Planters Life Assurance Corporation (Cocolife) seeking to assert their right over a portion of the 24-percent block of shares in San Miguel Corporation.
On January 24, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the coco levy funds are “owned by the government to be used only for the benefit of coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry.”
“If the government manages to transfer that fund into the National Treasury and into the General Fund, they can use it for practically anything,” Marcos said during a consultation with over 600 coconut farmers from Bohol and nearby provinces.
The consultation with the CCFOP held at the Bohol Cultural Center, Tagbilaran City was the latest in a series of dialogues Marcos held with the group to help them in their struggle over the ownership of the coco levy funds.
Marcos refuted De Lima’s accusation that the CCOFP petition represents “a last ditch feeble attempt by powerful interest groups to once again rob our coconut farmers of what has already been duly declared to be theirs”.
CCFOP opposed the government’s move to utilize the coco levy funds. The SC has issued a TRO against the order last June 30 which EO 179 calls for the inventory, privatization and reconveyance in favor of the government of all coconut levy assets, including the shares of stock in UCPB, CIIF Companies, and CIIF Holding Companies, as well as the 5,500,000 SMC shares in the name of the PCGG.
EO180 sought the immediate transfer and reconveyance of the coconut levy assets to the government and use them for the Integrated Coconut Industry Roadmap and the Roadmap for Coco Levy which the coconut farmers opposed. The SC decided the coco levy funds are to be used only for the cocofarmer benefit and for the coconut industry.
“Clearly, the government wants to control the coco levy funds. We will not allow that to happen,” said Marcos.
Marcos earlier made a commitment to support a bill the coconut farmers themselves have drafted on the utilization of the funds based on the roadmap that the farmers laid out for the revitalization of the coconut industry./MP