Farmers warn Malacañang, DAR: Don’t touch coco levy fundBy Delfin T. Mallari Jr. |Inquirer Southern Luzon
LUCENA CITY — The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the claimants’ movement Coco Levy Funds Ibalik sa Amin (CLAIM) have expressed dismay over reports that the Department of Agrarian Reform is eyeing the coco levy fund for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp).
“We will never allow the Aquino government to use small coconut farmers’ money against farmers themselves. The Aquino government would once again steal our plundered money,” KMP deputy secretary general Willy Marbella, said in a statement.
Marbella issued the statement after Agrarian Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes disclosed that DAR is also looking at the coco levy funds to finance support services of Carp.
Marbella, also CLAIM national coordinator, warned Delos Reyes “not to dare touch our money as this would hasten his ouster from the DAR.”
Marbella feared the coco levy funds would be used as payment for the lands of big landlords like Hacienda Luisita which is owned by the family of President Aquino.
He cited reports that Hacienda Luisita was asking for P10 billion for the sugar estate now going to be distributed to its tenant-farmers.
Marbella said De los Reyes’ statement affirmed the Aquino administration’s so-called “roadmap for the coconut industry” designed by the National Anti-Poverty Commission headed by Joel Rocamora, who also heads the Presidential Task Force on the Coco Levy Funds that is pushing for the P11.17 billion five-year “Poverty Reduction Roadmap of the Coconut Industry” that includes the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)” and DAR’s Land Tenure Improvement, and so-called agro-enterprise development.
“Using the coco levy funds for the sham CARP will only benefit big landlords, like the Cojuangco-Aquinos and corrupt bureaucrats,” Marbella said, adding that CARP has become a “milking cow of big landlords”.
The KMP is pushing for the immediate cash distribution of the coco levy funds in the form of pension, medical, and educational benefits, among others.
The peasant group is also demanding the enactment of House Bill 374 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) which seeks the “free distribution of lands to landless tillers.”
“Its (vast tracks of lands) subsequent free distribution to landless tillers will solve the centuries-old landlessness of peasants in the country,” he said.