Tañada files bill creating coco farmers trust fund | Inquirer News
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Tañada files bill creating coco farmers trust fund

By: - Correspondent / @dtmallarijrINQ
/ 05:22 AM August 29, 2011

Lucena City, Quezon, Philippines—House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada III (Quezon, 4th District) has filed House Bill 5070 that aims to establish the Coconut Farmers Trust Fund (CFTF) to help end the “long and harrowing odyssey of coconut farmers.”

“It is high time that the real beneficiaries of the coconut levy funds, the coconut farmers who contributed to it and the entire coconut industry be given a chance to reap the benefits due them,” the Quezon lawmaker said in a statement sent to the Inquirer Wednesday.

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Quezon is believed to be the biggest contributor to the multi-billion-peso coconut levy that was forcibly collected from coconut farmers during the Marcos regime.

Tañada said the proposed legislation would ensure financial protection to the coconut industry and its workers by finally reclaiming the Coconut Consumers Stabilization Fund (CCSF), known also as the coco levy fund.

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Programs

The proposed law would also finance programs and help coconut farmers increase their productivity, develop coconut-based enterprises and promote anti-poverty programs, said Tañada.

The trust fund’s capitalization would come from the 27 percent Coconut Industry Investment Fund-San Miguel Corp. (CIIF-SMC) shares which have a minimum value estimated at P56 billion, he said.

Capitalization will also come from all other available funds and augmentations from grants, donations and other lawful transfers of public or private entities.

Under HB 5070, the CFTF will be headed by the President who shall appoint the committee’s 12 members who will handle the disposition, utilization and allocation of the earnings and incomes of the fund.

Investment

Tañada said the committee would set the investment policy for the trust fund and designate the banks which shall manage the trust fund.

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“The bill establishes priorities for the preferential assistance to small coconut farmers and farm workers, which shall be reviewed periodically and revised as necessary,” he said.

Last April, the Supreme Court affirmed a 2007 decision of the Sandiganbayan and declared that the block of SMC shares held by businessman Eduardo Cojuangco, which coconut farmers claimed were also bought using the coco levy fund, was the “exclusive property” of Cojuangco, an uncle of President Aquino.

The high tribunal, in its final decision, also dismissed the motion for consideration filed by coconut reform activists and the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

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TAGS: 4th District), Coco farmers, Coconut Farmers Trust Fund (CFTF), House Bill 5070, House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada III (Quezon, Quezon Province, Regions, trust fund
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