Farmers press plunder charges vs Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco, Juan Ponce Enrile | Inquirer News
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Farmers press plunder charges vs Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco, Juan Ponce Enrile

/ 06:17 AM November 19, 2011

A farmers’ group on Friday asked the Office of the Ombudsman to act on an eight-year-old plunder complaint that they had filed against businessman Danding Cojuangco, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and the late Clara Lobregat over the alleged misuse of coconut levy funds.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on Friday filed an “extremely urgent motion” asking the Ombudsman to direct the respondents to file a counter-affidavit to the criminal complaint.

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In their motion, the KMP said their complaint has been pending for far too long, considering that they brought it to the Ombudsman in 2003.

“For almost eight years now, still no action has been taken. It is the height of injustice that the complainants, representing the small coconut farmers, were continuously being deprived of the fruits of their labor and rightful ownership of the multi-billion coconut levy funds,” they said.

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The coco levy was a forced tax collected from farmers during martial law when the country was ruled by dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The levy on the coconut industry was actually two levies: the first called the Coconut Investment Fund, or Cocofund, was imposed by Congress which enacted the Cocofund Law, or RA 6260, in 1971.

The second was the Coconut Investment Stabilization Fund (CCSF) under Presidential Decree 276, imposing a P15 levy for every 100 kg of copra “for the benefit of coconut farmers.

The funds from the levy, which was collected “on first sale,” were remitted to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), an agency created by presidential decree in 1973, which was tasked to develop the coconut industry.

The PCA governing board was chaired by Enrile, the then defense minister. Among the board members were Cojuangco and Lobregat, the president of Cocofed, an organization of coconut landowners and landlords which was then the only recognized farmers’ organization. Lobregat died in 2004.

In their 2003 complaint, the KMP alleged that the coco levy funds were illegally used to reimburse the funds used for the purchase of 72.2 percent of the authorized capital stock of the First United Bank, the precursor of the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB).

It said 7.2 percent of the authorized capital stock went to Cojuangco. It said the 64.98 percent of the authorized capital stock that was placed in the PCA was distributed illegally to 1.4 million farmers who paid the Cocofund levy. But the money was supposed to be for the payors of the CCSF, who numbered 4.5 million, it said.

It alleged that the 1.4 million farmers, who were members of the Lobregat-led Cocofed, were not genuine coconut farmers and were just dummies and business associates of the respondents.

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TAGS: businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Coconut Levy Funds, Juan Ponce Enrile, Kilusang Magbubuking ng Pilipinas, Office of the Ombudsman, plunder charges
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