In the Philippines, sequester or sequestration was popularized by the Cory Aquino administration. Its meaning, then, was different.
It was an act by government of taking over a private corporation.
In this case, the then Cory Aquino government sequestered the Philippine Coconut Producers Federation, Inc., a private corporation organized for and on behalf of the coconut farmers of the Philippines.
The coconut farmers’ money collected by a government agency in the form of levy or tax for and on behalf of the Filipino coconut farmers for nine years from 1973 to 1982 was also sequestered.
The law that defined the levy collecting process was called COCOFUND Law (R.A. 6260).
It had a provision that the monies collected would be used solely for the benefit of the coconut industry and the coconut farmers.
Twenty-seven years after that sequestration, the coconut farmers are still fighting the government, both in courts of law and in the streets, to recover the money, now totaling P70 billion, which they claim, rightly belongs to them.
With due respects to Philippine courts that have rendered decisions on this issue that the monies belong to the Philippine Government, the coconut farmers, to my mind, are correct.
The money came from their hard work and, therefore, it belongs to them.
At the time the levy was being collected (from 1973-1982), every coconut farmer paid a tax or levy for every 100 kilos of copra that he sold by deducting it from the price at the farm gate.
The Philippine Coconut Authority was the levy collecting agency.
The law declared that the purpose of the money collected was “to accelerate the development and growth of the coconut industry and as a consequence thereof, to make the coconut farmers ‘participants in and beneficiaries’ of such growth and development.”
As of today, 40 years after the first centavo of the P70 billion was collected, the money is still supposedly intact in the Central Bank of the Philippines.
It can only be touched or withdrawn by a court order.
Many of the Filipino coconut farmers who paid the levy have already passed, but still, the purposes for which it was collected remain unfulfilled.
Nor were the goals of the fund abandoned because the organization tasked with administering the money was sequestered before the projects for the farmers were implemented.
Unfortunately, the Philippine courts claimed that one of the reasons for their decision declaring the coconut levy as government funds was because the purposes for which the levy collection were made were either abandoned or unfulfilled.
How could they have fulfilled those purposes when the government sequestered the farmers’ organization and the monies?
Poor coconut farmers!
They remain poor and indebted to the rich farm copra buyers.