By: Elena Grace Flores
President Rodrigo Du30 vows to continue to push for the return of the multi-billion-peso coco levy funds to farmers. Although, he does not believe in giving it out to them. An honest man should administer it, because it is “sacred money,” Du30 stressed. He calls for its urgent utilization as per the vision of the late President Ferdinand Marcos . However, it is not easy to find an honest man for the task. Therefore, he would rather keep it in the bank. Is he keeping it safe for the next Marcos regime? At the rate Alan Peter Cayetano’s speakership in the House is going, it is likely that he can fulfill his promise to the late President’s son, Bongbong Marcos with the majority of the Pro-administration lawmakers in both the Senate and the Congress. The Coco Levy Fund is estimated to have ballooned anywhere in the range of P100-150 billion in assets.
YouTube video byElena Grace Flores
[VIDEO]: The President said that it is better to keep the 100 Billion Coco Levy funds acquired during Marcos’ Martial Law at the bank.
The Coco Levy Funds’ Whereabouts
In 1986, shortly after the Edsa People Power Revolution, all coco levy-acquired assets were taken by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG). This was under the Aquino regime. The control of UCPB went to Cojuangco when Joseph Estrada assumed the presidency in 1998. In December 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that the coco levy funds were “public in character.” The SC leaves it to the Sandiganbayan to decide who owns the assets acquired with the funds.
In Line with the Supreme Court
The President said that he agrees with the Supreme Court. It would not be feasible to return the money to the rightful farmers. Tracing them is the biggest challenge. The funds can disappear like a sprinkler, he added. The best way is to retain the 100 billion Pesos. Then, use at least 5 billion Pesos for agricultural projects that would benefit the beneficiaries directly. That’s a lot of money already for such initiatives, Du30 commented.
Funds Collected from the Farmers During Martial Law
The coconut levy was a tax imposed by Marcos on the produce of coconut farmers between 1973 and 1982. The purpose is to develop the coconut industry. Through Republic Act No. 6260, a tax of 55 centavos was charged initially on the first sale of every 100 kilos of copra.
Investments of the Funds
In 1975, Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 755. This authorizes the PCA, whose board includes businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. This is for the use of the funds to buy 72.2 percent of First United Bank (FUB). It later became United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB). Cojuangco was its president and chief executive officer. With the PCA and UCPB in their control, Cojuangco and his associates were able to buy companies and mills under the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF). This is a group of 14 holding companies whose assets include 47 percent of San Miguel Corp. (SMC). These assets are with the UCPB.