Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Return of coco levy fund tops farmers’ wish | Inquirer News

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The Presidential Commission on Good Government earlier estimated the coco levy assets to be worth about P83 billion—P73 billion in cash (liquidated shares from the food giant San Miguel Corp. or SMC) and P10 billion in shares of stock in the United Coconut Planters Bank and oil mills operated by the Coconut Industry Investment Fund.

The recovered fund is expected to benefit more than 20 million coconut farmers and their families from some 21,000 coconut-producing villages across the country.

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Farmers from Quezon, a major coconut-producing province, are believed to be the biggest contributors to the coco levy fund exacted during the Marcos regime.

The fund and its assets were sequestered by the government after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in the people power uprising of 1986.

The Supreme Court has ruled the levy as public fund and should be used by the government for the benefit of coconut farmers and to develop the coconut industry.

Last March, President Aquino issued Executive Order No. 179, which governs the disposition and privatization of recovered coco levy-funded and EO No. 180, which provides the guidelines for the use of the recovered P74.3 billion from SMC. But its implementation was halted after coconut farmers obtained a restraining order from the Supreme Court.

Last October, the House of Representatives passed the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act, or House Bill No. 6135, creating a permanent trust to manage the coco levy funds for the benefit of local coconut farmers and the coconut industry.

Coconut farmers again rejected HB No. 6135, saying it was a copycat of EOs No. 179 and 180.
THE LIFE of this coconut worker may be alleviated if the coconut levy is returned to him. DELFIN MALLARI JR./ INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON.

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