Aquino backers back coconut farmers’ march
LUCENA CITY, Philippines—A multisectoral movement supporting the reforms of the Aquino administration has declared support for coconut farmers in their struggle for the use of the coconut levy fund to alleviate their poverty and correct an injustice that continues to be committed against them.
In a statement, the Koalisyon ng Mamamayan para sa Reporma (Kompre) called on President Aquino to listen to the proposal of the farmers for the creation of the Coconut Farmers Trust Fund (CFTF) “to address an issue of injustice perpetrated by the dictator Marcos at the height of martial law.”
The group, in a statement dated Nov. 19, said the proposal of Kilusang Magniniyog (KM) movement to establish CFTF would support coconut farmers in developing their farms, using the fund forcibly collected from them during the Marcos regime.
Kompre said the coco levy fund exacted from the coconut farmers from 1973 to 1982 during martial law was a “scam to deceive the coconut farmers.”
The group said the forcible collection of the coco levy fund robbed the coconut farmers of their legitimate income “while propping up a cabal of cronies without regard for the farmers’ welfare.”
Kompre declared that “tuwid na daan (straight path) must not only weed out corruption but must also correct a monumental injustice perpetrated in the dark years of martial law.”
A group of 71 coconut farmers, also known as KM 71, have been marching from Davao since Sept. 21 on their way to Malacañang to compel Mr. Aquino to issue an executive order creating the CFTF from the recovered coconut levy fund and certify as urgent the initiative bill version that has been filed in both chambers of Congress.
The KM 71 farmers entered Metro Manila on Wednesday.
They were scheduled to speak in several big colleges and universities and conduct protest activities in several national government agencies in Metro Manila before the last leg of the march toward Malacañang on Nov. 26.
Kompre was formed in August to counter the wave of antipork barrel protesters. It was organized by pro-Aquino supporters, like former Civil Service Commission Chief Karina David and artist Leah Navarro.
Several Cabinet members, like Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, and Mr. Aquino’s political adviser, Ronald Llamas, attended its launching.
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