THE Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the claimants movement Coco Levy Fund Ibalik sa Amin (Claim) on Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision stopping the government from “plundering” the P73 billion coco levy funds.
“While the high court’s order temporarily stopped Aquino’s scheme to once again plunder the coco levy funds, small coconut farmers should not let their guards down. Aquino’s twin coco levy executive orders are designed for plunder,” Rafael Mariano, KMP chairman, said.
Claim national spokesperson Nestor Villanueva called on Congress to stop deliberations on bills that seek to privatise the coco levy fund.
“We demand Congress to halt the proceedings of all pending bills seeking to privatize our money and assets,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva cited “EO 179 and 180 copycat bills” particularly Senate Bill 2675 authored by Sen. Cynthia Villar which is pending in the Senate plenary and a similar measure at the House of Representatives approved by the Committee on Agriculture on June 10.
Villanueva maintained that “EO 179 and 180 would diminish small coconut farmers’ legitimate claim and, on the other hand, strengthened state control over the funds by declaring that all coco levy funds belong to the government which did not contribute a single cent to the funds.”
The KMP and CLAIM insist that “the oil mills, the UCPB, and the SMC shares are owned by small coconut farmers.”
“Aquino has no legal and moral authority to sell these coco levy funded corporations and assets,” they said.
Malacanang however said the ruling was “unfortunate.”
In a statement, Food Security Secretary Francis Pangilinan said for nearly four decades, the coco levy fund has been entangled in legal disputes.
“It is most unfortunate that some parties have stubbornly continued to oppose the use of the funds to the detriment of the beneficiaries, the aging coconut farmers,” Pangilinan said.
“EOs 179 and 180 were meant to ensure that the coco levy funds are used judiciously. The unending legal disputes and the prolonging of the same are part of the problem,” Pangilinan said.