[March 10, 2016] The time for pretension is over. Senators Poe and Escudero had obviously drawn the line on the decades-old coconut levy scam. Recent comments made by the two in a campaign sortie in Quezon Province yesterday clearly project the position of Danding Cojuangco and his Nationalist Peoples Coalition on the coco levy. So to claim that they are one with the coconut farmers in resolving this issue is a great big lie.
|COIR Inc Exec. Dir. Joey Faustino|
The CIIF-SMC shares, the coco levies referred to by Senators Poe and Escudero, merely point to a portion of investments made by Danding Cojuangco using the Coconut Industry Investment Funds (CIIF) during the Martial Law period. This now amounts to over P71B. Some 4% of these CIIF-SMC shares, worth more than P17B, still remain in the possession of San Miguel Corporation which Cojuangco had refused to turn over to government.
Mr. Cojuangco had also continuously wrestled control of the coco levy-funded companies -- the UCPB-CIIF Group of Companies -- administration after administration, since its sequestration in 1987. Moreover, the second biggest block of shares in SMC, worth around P80B, was erroneously granted to Cojuangco by a minority of seven in the Supreme Court, using a false premise that Cojuangco was not proven to be a crony of Mr. Marcos.
In March 2015, President Aquino issued Executive Order No. 180 in an attempt to utilize a portion of the recovered coco levies for direct benefits of the coconut farmers. This particular executive order was challenged in Court by the camp of the Philippine Coconut Producers Federation Inc. (COCOFED), a Danding Cojuangco-related group of big business and land-owners who lorded over the coco levy funds under the dictatorship. They had done so when President Ramos issued Executive Order No. 481 recognizing the public character of the said funds.
There were more than 200 cases filed by the Presidential Commission on Good Government against Cojuangco and other cronies involved in the coconut levy scam. After almost 30 years, only three of these cases had seen finality in Courts. Such is the reason why the Cojuangco camp had not stopped from forging political compromises with each passing administration. In short, the coco levy issue is far from being settled.
Finally, if there was even a tinge of truth to what these two Senators say on the coconut levy issue, they had so willfully missed to affix their signatures to the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Bill. This Bill was initiated by the KILUS Magniniyog to represent the sector’s interests. It aimed to protect the recovered coconut levies and establish a trust fund that would directly benefit the coconut farmers. The Bill was certified as urgent by the Aquino Administration and passed on Third Reading by the House of Representatives. The Bill never reached Plenary in the Senate yet not an effort was made by Poe or Escudero in the whole process.
The public should know so as not to be deceived.
Coconut Industry Reform Movement (COIR) Inc.