SC order stops Duterte from distributing coco levy funds – Piñol
DAVAO CITY — Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said on Monday that the Duterte administration could not just distribute the coco levy fund because of a prohibition from the Supreme Court.
Piñol said the protesting farmers from Southern Luzon have been “barking up the wrong tree” and have been “either misinformed or misled” in their demand that President Duterte release the coco levy fund.
He said while the Duterte government would want to do that, a Supreme Court temporary restraining order would stand in his way.
“In our last meeting in Malacañang, it was made clear that even with the presidential directive to work on the release of the coco levy fund, there is a pending Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court, which enjoins government from touching, releasing or disbursing the Coco Levy Fund,” Piñol said in a statement.
He acknowledged that the release of the coco levy fund was a campaign promise of President Duterte and “right after his assumption to office as the 16th President, Rody Duterte started working on his commitments to the Filipino farmers.”
“He also instructed me to work on the immediate release and utilization of the coconut levy fund so that this would help the country’s coconut farmers,” Piñol said.
He said he worked closely with Presidential Legislative Liaison Officer, Secretary Avelino Sitoy, and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano to make this happen but the high court’s TRO had come in the way.
“This is what stops President Duterte from fulfilling his commitment to release the coco levy fund,” Piñol said.
Even with the prohibition, he said the Presidential Working Group on Coco Levy worked on the details of how the fund should be released and used.
“We the members of the Presidential Working Group agreed on this so that when the time comes when the Supreme Court finally lifts the TRO, the release and utilization of the coco levy fund could be implemented right away,” Piñol said.
He said government lawyers have been finding ways on how the fund could be finally released to coconut farmers.
“But until such time the TRO is lifted, President Duterte’s hands are tied,” Piñol added. SFM/rga
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