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P-Noy urged to certify coco levy bill as urgent in light of SC ruling

/ 08:22 PM February 03, 2012

AnakPawis Party-list welcomes the recent Supreme Court ruling affirming as public funds the coco levy funds that was illegally acquired and controlled by Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr., President Aquino’s uncle, to purchase 24 percent of San Miguel Corporation (SMC). The unanimous ruling is an initial victory for coconut farmers. This should compel the Aquino administration to address the longstanding demand of small coconut farmers for the recovery of the coco levy funds.

We also fully support the coconut farmers’ just demand that the funds be immediately pulled out from SMC and returned to them as the rightful owners.

The 24-percent share has an estimated value of P50 billion to P100 billion. In 2010, its value was said to have grown to more than P150 billion. Right now, the coco levy funds remain out of reach of small coconut farmers.

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With this ruling, we urge the Aquino government to certify as urgent House Bill 3443 or the creation of the Small Coconut Farmers’ Trust Fund, which will manage the coco levy funds and facilitate their return to the small coconut farmers. Through this body, the government will empower and enable coconut farmers to exercise their ownership of and propriety rights to the funds; ensure that the funds are used for the exclusive benefit of coconut farmers; and pursue a coconut farmers-led program geared toward more productivity on the part of coconut farmers, the integrated development of the coconut industry, a higher standard of living for farmers in accordance with social justice, genuine rural development and national industrialization.

After Marcos’ downfall in 1986, the Cojuangco-led bloc of Marcos cronies and the government have been locked in an intricate legal tug-of-war for control of the funds. In the process, the government sequestered the companies which the Marcos cronies acquired using the coco levy funds, claimed proportionate seats in those firms, and entered into a series of compromise agreements with the Cojuangco camp.

The coco levy was a tax exacted from coconut farmers from 1973 to 1982. It came in two forms: the Coconut Investment Fund established on June 13, 1971 through Republic Act 6260, which provided for the exaction of a 55-centavo tax for every 100 kilos of copra (the coconut farmers were given receipts for their payments); then there was the Coconut Consumers Stabilization Fund (CCSF) established by Presidential Decree No. 276 which provided for a P15-tax for each first sale of every 100 kilos of copra from Aug. 20, 1973. Eventually the tax was increased to P100 for every 100 kilos.

There were three major institutions which took care of the coco levy: the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), the Philippine Coconut Planters Federation (Cocofed), and the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB). These institutions were established in 1975 through the money that coconut farmers invested in the CCSF, and were directly administered by Cojuangco, former Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, and the late Ma. Clara Lobregat.

—REP. RAFAEL MARIANO,

Anakpawis Party List,

SWA-405, Batasan Hills,

Quezon City

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TAGS: coconut levy, Government, letters, supreme court ruling
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