Coco farmers throw support behind Poe, Marcos
MANILA — Grace Poe for President but Bongbong Marcos for Vice President? It’s the ideal tandem for a national coalition of coconut farmers.
In a press conference in Quezon City on Monday, the Confederation of Coconut Farmers (Confed), represented by national chairman Efren M. Villaseñor, declared their support specifically for Poe and Marcos who were from different political parties.
Villaseñor said Confed decided to support Poe due to “her doable and concrete programs for coconut farmers,” while Marcos was simply the preferred vice presidential candidate of most members of the group. Villaseñor described Poe’s running mate, Chiz Escudero, as a “poor second” to Marcos.
In a statement, Villaseñor described their group as “the largest and broadest alliance of major coconut farmers organisations in the country,” comprising 90 percent of more than 3.5 million coconut farmers in the country.
Villaseñor lamented that Poe was placed “in a bad light” after she pointed out that the P72 billion coco levy fund was no longer in the hands of Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr., but with the government.
“We fully support the statement of Sen. Grace Poe … Mr. Danding Cojuangco is a non-issue here because we have already won the cases we filed against him to recover the coco levy fund. The whole fund is under the control of the government,” Villaseñor said.
“The Supreme Court ordered that the coco levy fund be deposited in an escrow account to either Landbank, the DBP [the Development Bank of the Philippines] or the UCPB [United Coconut Planters’ Bank]. However, despite such ruling, Malacañang refused to place the amount in any of the banks and instead the amount was placed in the Bureau of Treasury. It is our position that Malacañang should be held in contempt of the Supreme Court ruling for defying such an order,” Villaseñor explained.
Villaseñor added that after 40 years of struggle to get their hands on the coco levy fund and four years after they won the case, “coconut farmers have yet to use a single centavo of the coco levy fund as it is being held by the government and is in danger of being used for purposes other than for the benefit of our coconut farmers.” SFM
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