Quezon group to Duterte: Tap coco levy fund to help farmers deal with COVID-19
LUCENA CITY – The multisectoral group Kapatiran at Alyansang Alay para sa Kaunlaran ng Bayan–Quezon (Kaakbay-Quezon), urged the government to tap the more than P100 billion coconut levy fund to help more than 20 million suffering coconut farmers from the economic crisis brought by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Now is the time to distribute the levy fund to help the suffering coconut farmers cope with the coronavirus crisis,” said Jay Lim, spokesperson of Kaakbay-Quezon, in an interview Tuesday.
Organized in the early 1990s, Kaakbay-Quezon is the biggest coalition of militant nongovernment groups composed of farmers, workers, religious, students, and environmentalists in the province.
Lim argued that most coconut farmers across the country fit in as among the target beneficiaries under the Duterte administration’s “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” that provides emergency subsidy to marginalized Filipinos affected by COVID-19.
“But since the coconut farmers already have their own coconut levy fund to lean on, they would no longer be a burden to the government,” Lim emphasized.
The coconut levy fund came from the “sweat, blood, and tears of the coconut farmers,” he said.
“It’s their money. Every centavo of it should be allotted primarily for their sole benefit,” he said.
Lim noted that the coco levy fund, now with the government, was “estimated to be around P100 billion.”
“President Duterte should no longer look elsewhere for the additional fund. It is already with the government. And the farmers who own the levy have been suffering for so long. Long before the COVID-19 crisis came in,” Lim stressed.
The levy was imposed on coconut farmers during the martial law regime of then President Ferdinand Marcos. It aimed to benefit contributors. However, only the cronies of Marcos were able to benefit from the fund.
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