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Quezon execs ask Palace to show where coco levy funds are

LUCENA CITY—Quezon Rep. Aleta Suarez asked the Aquino administration to account for and explain where the multibillion-peso coconut levy fund is.

“It’s not enough that the Aquino administration would say that the multibillion coco levy fund is with the government. Where is it? How much really is the total fund?” Suarez said in an interview in Manila on Thursday.

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The lawmaker supported the call of different coconut farmers’ groups for the farmers themselves to decide how to use the fund for their welfare.

“The fund should be returned to the coconut farmers because the money really belongs to them. They have already waited for so long,” Suarez said.

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Jansepth Geronimo, spokesperson of the Kilusan Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan (Katarungan), dared known presidential aspirants Vice President Jejomar Binay, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Senator Grace Poe and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to declare their stand on the coconut levy fund.

READ: Privatization of coco levy funds underway

“The millions of farmers are all waiting for them to speak up. The deafening silence from these presumptive presidential aspirants betrays their indifference to the plight of the peasants,” Geronimo said.

Quezon board member Gary Estrada called for the revocation of President Aquino’s executive orders (EO) on the privatization and use of the coco levy fund.

“The EOs (executive orders) have to be junked so the farmers could finally reap the benefits of the coco levy funds,” Estrada said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

President Benigno Aquino III’s EO 179 governs the disposition and privatization of coco levy-funded assets while EO 180 provides the guidelines for the use of P74 billion recovered from San Miguel Corp.

The President signed the two EOs on March 18.

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On June 30, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) effective immediately and until further orders from the court against the implementation of EOs 179 and 180.

“There may be a TRO against EO 179 and 180, but we never know one or two days from now, the TRO could be lifted,” Estrada said.

READ: Plan to privatize coco levy fund riles farmers

On Monday, Estrada met with leaders of claimants’ movement Coco Levy Funds Ibalik sa Amin (CLAIM)-Quezon.

“We want to ask the provincial government to issue a stand about the issue. While the high court’s order temporarily stopped Aquino’s scheme to once again plunder the coco levy funds, we should not let our guard down. Aquino’s twin coco levy executive orders are designed for plunder,” said Allan de Chavez, CLAIM-Quezon secretary general.

Estrada, who heads the provincial board’s committee on agriculture, proposed a resolution calling on the government to junk EO 179 and 180.

The other board members, however, want more time to study the matter.

Farmers from Quezon, a major coconut producing province, are believed to have been the biggest contributors to the coco levy fund.

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TAGS: Agriculture, coco levy, coco levy funds, funds, Malacañang
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