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Farmers remind Rody of promise on coco levy

/ 01:35 AM June 08, 2016

LUCENA CITY—A national farmers’ group has urged President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to deliver a campaign promise to return to farmers billions of pesos of coconut levy forcibly collected by the Marcos regime.

“Farmers look at him (Duterte) as their only hope to reclaim the levy,” said Jansepth Geronimo, spokesperson of Kilusan Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan (Katarungan).

In his campaign speeches, Duterte vowed to order the distribution of the levy within a month of his administration.

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Duterte said “political will” was needed to enforce the Supreme Court decision to return the fund to farmers after it ruled that the levy was public fund meant to develop the country’s coconut industry.

Geronimo said coconut farmers in Quezon were waiting for Duterte’s plans on how to return the levy.

Last year, President Aquino issued Executive Order No. 179, which governs the disposition and privatization of the coco levy assets, and EO No. 180, which provides the guidelines for the use of the P74.3 billion recovered from San Miguel Corp. (SMC). Its enforcement was stopped after coconut farmers obtained a restraining order from the Supreme Court.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government earlier estimated the levy, including assets bought using it, to be worth P83 billion—P73 billion in cash (liquidated shares from SMC) and P10 billion in shares of stock in the United Coconut Planters Bank and oil mills operated by the Coconut Industry Investment Fund. Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon

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