Aid sought for farmers amid copra price drop
Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos on Sunday said the recovered P100 billion in coconut levy funds, which were forcibly collected from farmers during the reign of her late father, Ferdinand Marcos, should be used to help farmers cope with declining copra prices.
Farmers had blamed the imposition of the coconut levy on their produce during the martial law years for stunting growth in the coconut industry and for the poverty that gripped coconut farming communities.
In a statement, Marcos said some 3.5 million coconut farmers were in dire need of financial aid from the Duterte administration amid the plummeting local prices for copra.
“Our coconut industry continues to suffer because of the supply glut in the global market,” the governor said.
“What makes this worse is that the slump is happening during the peak of the harvest season, which is from June to October,” she said.
Marcos, who recently met coconut farmers in Eastern Visayas and Caraga regions, said a “rescue package” for coconut farmers should include the use of billions of pesos in coconut levy funds, which the Supreme Court had declared as public money diverted to companies controlled by her father’s associates.
“Proceeds from the coco levy fund should also be used to directly benefit poor coconut farmers, especially amid this plunge in prices of copra,” Marcos said.
“What we need is immediate intervention through a rescue package for our coconut farmers,” she added.
The governor, however, may have glossed over the fact that it was her father who ordered the collection of 55 centavos per 100 kilograms of copra from farmers in 1972.
In 2012, the high tribunal ruled that the funds, which were diverted to bankroll the now-defunct United Coconut Planters Bank and certain investments of San Miguel Corp., should be spent to benefit coconut farmers.
Citing data from the Philippine Coconut Authority, Marcos said the usual farm-gate price of copra was P18 to P22 per kg last month.
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