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PCA starts listing coco farmers

LUCENA CITY—The Philippine Coconut Authority has asked owners of coconut plantations in the country to register in relation to the passage of the Coco Levy Trust Fund bill.

Farmers, however, are worried that the registration program might be used to remove them from the list of beneficiaries once the government distributes assets generated by the tax collected from coconut farmers during the administration of strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

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“We hope that this will not be used to exclude poor and marginalized tenants and farm workers from benefiting from the coconut levy fund,” Danny Carranza, secretary general of Kilusan Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan (Katarungan), said on Thursday.

Carranza recalled a similar registration program during the Marcos regime, “where only big and rich landowners were able to register.”

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The PCA, in a post on its website, set Nov. 7 to Dec. 15 as registration period for landowners, coconut farmers and farm workers “in pursuit of our mandate and in view of the immediate passing of Coco Levy Trust Fund bill.”

Carranza, however, urged the PCA to conduct a massive information campaign, down to villages in 68 coconut producing provinces, to clarify the purpose of the registration program.

He also asked the PCA to discuss the program in big coconut plantations across the country, especially in haciendas that have yet to be covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Citing records from the Department of Agrarian Reform, Carranza said the biggest backlog in land redistribution covers coconut lands, estimated at 400,000 to 700,000 hectares nationwide.

He urged the PCA to visit the more than 11,000 coconut producing villages to talk to farmers before proceeding with the registration process.

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TAGS: coco levy, Coco Levy Trust Fund Bill, Philippine Coconut Authority
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