Duterte’s vague plan for coco levy fund disappoints farmers group
LUCENA CITY — The farmers group Kilusan Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan (Katarungan) lamented President Duterte’s apparent lack of concrete plans on how to use the coconut levy fund after three years in office.
Danny Carranza, secretary-general of Katarungan, said Duterte’s pledge that the coconut levy would be utilized for the benefit of small coconut farmers was a “rehash of his election promise.”
“Three years into his administration, or 36 months later, the promise remains a promise while coconut farmers nationwide are reeling from deeper poverty due to record low prices of coconut and copra, a situation he was silent about,” he said in a statement Tuesday.
The average price of copra is P12 to P15 per kilo as compared to last year’s P40 a kilo; while the price per nut is now down to P2 to P3 a piece from its previous P10 price tag.
During the presidential campaign trail in 2016, Duterte, then Davao City mayor, had promised in Catanauan, Quezon that the funds would be distributed to coconut farmers within 100 days of his presidency.
The fund, now with the government, is estimated to be around P100 billion.
Carranza also expressed alarm over the president’s admission that he had not found an honest man to manage the fund.
“It is as if saying that he is surrounded by dishonest people in his Cabinet. All of three years into his administration and no honest man to trust? That must be telling something about his government,” he said.
Carranza scoffed at the president’s plan to establish a coconut farmers’ trust fund.
“It may be true only in words,” he said.
Carranza noted that Duterte’s allies in Congress and Senate “had in fact, been undermining the proposal of farmers for the establishment of a trust fund and a trust fund committee.”
“A very powerful president who cannot mobilize his allies to fulfill his promise to the poor makes his pronouncements empty, mere populist promises,” Carranza said.
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