‘Let coco farmers decide on levy fund use’
LUCENA CITY—A national farmers’ group has urged President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to use his vast power to ensure that justice would be served to coconut farmers as the government now intends to utilize the controversial multibillion-peso coco levy fund.
Danny Carranza, secretary general of Kilusan Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan, appealed to Marcos to consider allowing more coconut farmers to have a say in the management of the coco levy fund.
“It is similar to the original proposal of coconut farmers in their original legislative proposal for the creation of a coconut farmers trust fund where they will have an equal number of representation with government agencies in the fund management,” Carranza said in a statement on Friday.
He said the incoming president could start by stating that his policy on the coco levy fund would ensure that the focus and priority of the programs and services under the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, or Republic Act No. 11524, are the poor coconut farmers and their associations and not the rich or well-off cooperatives.
‘Correct the injustice’
“Given a second chance to exercise enormous power, Marcos Jr. will have a rare opportunity to correct the injustices committed against coconut farmers,” Carranza said.
The coco levy was forcibly exacted by the state from 1971 to 1982 during the dictatorial regime of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, the father of the incoming national chief executive.
In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the fund belonged to the government for the benefit of coconut farmers.
The Department of Finance (DOF) disclosed that a recent Commission on Audit report pegged the value of coco levy assets at P111.3 billion.
Carranza also asked the Marcos administration to ensure that coconut farmers in all coconut-producing municipalities are able to participate in the process of planning around the implementation of RA 11524.
According to Carranza, the implementation should be done through a participatory process of consultation.
Carranza also appealed to Marcos to review the proposal to privatize coconut levy assets.
Carranza maintained that there are assets that can benefit the Filipino people better if managed properly and efficiently, such as the oil mills.
“This is especially important in light of the looming global food crisis that is expected to raise the price of food products, including cooking oil,” he said.
Carranza stressed the need to ensure that profit from the operations of coco levy-funded companies directly benefits the small coconut farmers.
Gov’t may now tap P75-billion coco levy fund for farmers
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