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DA secretary opposes cash distribution to farmers forced to pay coconut levy

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Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala: Perpetual trust fund

LUCENA CITY, Philippines—Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala slammed the proposed distribution of the nearly P70-billion coconut levy fund to individual farmers, saying it would only generate floods of court cases against the government.

Alcala feared the heirs of deceased coconut farmers and the government would end up embroiled in divisive and costly cases in court to determine who among them would be the legal recipients of the share of the levy contributors.

“Most of the levy contributors were already dead. If the government would resort to cash distribution, many of the heirs would file complaints on charges of unequal distributions,” Alcala told reporters in Mulanay, Quezon, on Wednesday on the sideline of the Department of Agrarian Reform land distribution program.

When Alcala was reminded that the Coconut Farmers Federation maintained records of the levy contributors, he shrugged his shoulder and replied: “I don’t know.”

Alcala, a former Quezon congressman, has been opposing the individual distribution of the levy money and instead suggested that the assets be used to rehabilitate and modernize the industry so that the benefits would trickle down to the poorest coconut farmer.

Under Alcala’s proposal, the coco levy fund will be placed in a perpetual trust fund and parts of its earning to be used in the long-neglected research and development of the coconut industry.

The Presidential Task Force on the Coco Levy Funds has also been pushing the allocation of P11.17 billion from the coco levy fund for its “Poverty Reduction Program for the Coconut Industry” project.

But peasant groups are divided on what to do with the recovered coconut levy fund.

“That’s our money, we ought to have the right to decide how to spend it,” said Nestor Villanueva, regional coordinator of the claimants group Coco Levy Funds Ibalik sa Amin (CLAIM)-Southern Tagalog.

CLAIM is an alliance of farmers’ organizations, federations, coconut planters associations and individual claimants and beneficiaries of coco levy funds.

Another group of coconut farmers welcomed Alcala’s proposal.

“The coco levy should remain intact as a perpetual trust fund for the coconut industry until a law is passed and policies are set on how best (it could be used to) benefit the coconut farmers,” said Jansept Geronimo, spokesperson of Kilusan Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Katarungan Panlipunan (Katarungan).

Coconut farmers from Quezon are believed to be the biggest contributors to the coco levy fund, a tax exacted from them between 1973 and 1982 during the regime of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Gov. David Suarez said his consultations with Quezon farmers not affiliated with peasant groups revealed that most preferred cash distribution.

“The coconut levy fund was forcibly exacted by the state from the farmers during martial law regime. To serve the best interest of justice, it is but fair and proper to return the money to them to correct the gross injustice committed in the past,” Suarez argued.

Suarez maintained the national government, particularly the Department of Agriculture, has sufficient funds to embark on the massive rehabilitation of the industry, which turned out production that became the top export items of the country.

“The government has no more justifiable reasons to withhold the money. Millions of farmers who paid the levy are now old, sick and dying. Most of them have died poor. They deserve the proceeds from the levy fund to alleviate their plight,” he added.

He said that those who must be compensated could easily be identified because the government has been able to maintain records of the farmers who paid the levy.


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Tags: Coco Levy Funds Ibalik sa Amin (CLAIM)-Southern Tagalog , Coconut Farmers Federation , Coconut Levy , compensation , Department of Agriculture , Farmers , Jansept Geronimo , justice and rights , Katarungan , Kilusan Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Katarungan Panlipunan , Philippines , Presidential Task Force on the Coco Levy Funds , Proceso Alcala


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WIWYLFLU4LPKS7B2ZLLRVFKS3Y vir_a

    Part of these funds should be used right now to stabilize copra prices. The price per kilo reached as high as 45 pesos. Now, it’s only 12 pesos. It’s unfair the funds are benefiting only the few when it should benefit the coco farmers in general.

    • batangpaslit

      kung sino ang may hawak ng receipts sila lang ang entitled ng dividends

  • huseng_batute

    Use the funds to establish a coconut research institute.  One like the IRRI in Los Baños.

  • Hey_Dudes

    WOW it is beginning to look like being a farmer in the country is indeed a profitable one.  First, you demand for a piece of land and soon maybe not fast enough eventually gets one.  Now, there’s billions of this coco funds soon to be in the hands of poor starving farmers.  Not to mention the US$10 billion that some poor badly treated by the Marcos during his martial law regime?  Can someone please tell me where I can enlist to be poor so I can also join in this get rich poor me scheme?

    • batangpaslit

      naka contribute ka ba sa coco levy? every peso paid, you fork out ten centavos.
      if you did, and you have the proper receipts to back up your claim, you have the right to demand your dividents

  • Guest

    Delikado yang mungkahi ni Procy Alcala. Baka bukas makalawa, nasa Department of Agriculture na si Rico Puno at maghanap ito ng paraan para gamitin ang coco levy fund. Kung ngayon pa lang may mga nakikinabang na sa hanay nina Florencio Abad sa paggamit ng coco levy fund sa money market, paano pa kaya kung nakisawsaw na si Rico Puno.

    Hindi naman masamang tao si Procy Alcala, pero galangin po natin ang kagustuhan ng mga coconut farmers. Sa dugo’t pawis po nila nanggaling ang perang coco levy fund. Huwag naman po niya sanang ipagkait sa kanilaang pera nila.

    • batangpaslit

      tumpak…

  • tilamsik

    Commission?

  • JLFS

    The money belongs to the coconut farmers not a tax for the government, it should be distributed to those who contributes.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AIPSCQM2TZQUMQ5GEIMWMWDFL4 Edward Solilap

    The Coconut levy is not  for rindividual  Farmer but for the entire coconut industry no logic for marcos to collect money from those farmers if his intention is to pay them back as a loan with interest. 

  • batangpaslit

    kung sino ang may hawak nang receipts, di, sila ang mag claim.

    in our case, my father kept the receipts; but, when he died, my mother took over; she died, and we called for family council and decided who would be the custodian among us siblings.
    we chose, of course, our brother who was assigned as the farm administrator after all he was the provincial agriculturist before he joined politics

    pag na declare ang dividends sa coco levy, siempre mag hati-hati kaming mgakapatid.

  • JasonBieber

    The government is sitting on a fat amount of cash that should belong to the coco farmers.

    It makes sense that individual distribution of cash may be problematic however, the cash cannot just be sit on and done nothing about. They should use those funds to benefit the farmers and boost the agriculture sector. But typical government…things move slow.

  • disqusted0fu

    As usual, wealth that belongs to the farmers are being held up by the government. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the funds are being used for other personal matters. This is one of the very many reasons why the PH needed the FOI law, and is also one of the very many reasons why the administration didn’t support its passage.



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