Gov’t to hurdle another legal battle on coco levy fund—de Lima
While the Supreme Court has already ruled that the over P70-billion coco levy fund belongs to the public, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Wednesday the government has one more legal battle to hurdle.
De Lima is referring to the petition filed by the Conferederation of Coconut Farmers Organization of the Philippines (CCFOP) which seeks to stop the government’s move to utilize the coco levy funds.
The CCFOP asked the high court to nullify Executive Order Numbers 179 and 180.
EO 179 requires the (1) inventory and privatization and (2) reconveyance and in favor of the government of all coconut levy assets, including but not limited to the shares of stock in the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF) Companies and CIIF Holding Companies as well as the 5,500,000 San Miguel Corporation (SMC) shares registered in the name of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).
EO180, on the other hand, ordered the immediate transfer and reconveyance of the coconut levy assets to the government and use it for the Integrated Coconut Industry Roadmap and the Roadmap for Coco Levy.
The high court, last June 30, issued a restraining order against the Executive Orders.
“One more legal challenge from these private interest groups is the case filed by the so-called Confederation of Coconut Farmers Organization of the Philippines (CCFOP) against EOs 179 and 180. The government and the public should be vigilant that this case also does not succeed in reversing previous Supreme Court rulings declaring the coco levy as public funds,” de Lima said in a text message.
“We must see these cases for what they are, as last ditch feeble attempts by powerful interest groups to once again rob our coconut farmers of what has already been duly declared to be theirs by the Supreme Court. Our coconut farmers have been robbed long enough. It is now time for them to truly benefit from their decades of toil through scholarships, trainings, equipment and other support services under a PCA (Philippine Coconut Authority ) roadmap for the utilization of the coco levy fund,” de Lima said.
Meanwhile, she lauded the high court for dismissing the bid of UCPB and the United Coconut Planters Life Assurance Corporation (Cocolife) to claim portion of the 753.8 million shares of stocks of SMC valued at about P70-billion.
” I commend the SC for its diligence in preventing another legal machination to frustrate its previous rulings declaring the fund as one established for the benefit of coconut farmers, including those used by UCPB to purchase San Miguel shares. I also congratulate the PCGG and the OSG (Office of Solicitor General) for their timely and urgent action against this backdoor legal maneuver, in order to guard and protect the gains of the government against the Marcoses and their cronies, as well as the private interests that seek and continue to frustrate these gains,” de Lima said. Tetch Torres-Tupas/RAM
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