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.
One can only read the lines to solve the riddles in President Rodrigo Du30’s speeches. He is honest enough to express his pro-stance on the late President Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law. It is obvious that his major actions recently follow the Marcos template. The charter change to Federalism is a structure that can prevent the opposition to regain their power in the executive branch. Therefore, there’s a big possibility that Bongbong Marcos can end up as Prime Minister as most people think. The signs are in the infrastructure investment.
[VIDEO]: President Rodrigo Duterte says former president Ferdinand Marcos’ declaration of martial law was ‘very good.’ This is in response to a question seeking to clarify Duterte’s earlier statement, where he said that his declaration of martial law would be similar to Marcos’ time.
The Manila-Clark MRT
The 106-kilometerManila-Clark MRT or railway project is one of the “high-impact projects” of President Rodrigo Duterte under the government’s “Build Build Build” infrastructure program. The rail system stands to benefit 350,000 passengers daily on its first year of operations. The Department of Transportation aims to start the finish the construction by 2021. It can decongest Metro Manila and further spread economic gains.
In June 2016, Du30 told the media that Chinese diplomats offered to fund and build the project in two years. A year later, the transportation department said the project would be funded through ODA from Japan. However, when it is true that the Japanese are involved in the construction, both the Chinese and the Japanese entities are not the investors.
Alternative to Bongbong Marcos’ Electoral Protest
The PET currently acknowledges the anomalies found as per the observations of Bongbong Marcos. It even issues another order for the local officials of Camarines Sur and Iloilo to explain the issues in the revisors’ incident reports specifically about the excess ballots in favor of VP Leni Robredo. However, the President already expresses his dismay over the delay for his Vice President to take over. Therefore, he can only prolong his stint to lock the position in place against the enemies.
ADB-World Bank Funding
The ADB or Asian Development Bank that aims to support the economic developments of the country is the investor of the Manila-Clark MRT. Asian Development Bank follows the pattern of the World Bank. Both work on various projects in the world side by side with each other. So, could the Marcos deposits for the welfare of humanity at the World Bank be the basis of the huge investment?
Bongbong Marcos discloses earlier that there are strong groups that are working to destabilize the Du30 administration. A study on remittance locally shows that there were suspicious funding movements. Remittances to central bank-registered remittance centers in Northern Mindanao spike by 200 to 400 percent early February 2017. This is three months before the Marawi attack. Marcos also speculates that surveys in the same period tend to influence the mindset of people.
[VIDEO]: Bongbong Marcos stresses that there are real groups that are working to destabilize Du30.
Much Needed Funding
Local remittances are crucial to funding the five-month siege led by the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups. The IS terrorists in Marawi cannot sustain their deadly attacks without the daily payments. Private remittance centers flourish extremely at a high rate in 2017. This happens even in second-class municipalities like Jasaan, Misamis Oriental, which, for the longest time, only have two rural banks.
Constant International Remittance
Remittances from overseas workers remained constant. They account for just 25 percent of the total in the past three years. Since February 2017, there were no new local industries within Mindanao that logically explain the 200- to the 400-percent increase in the volume and value of daily local remittances within the region.
Military sources cite the presence of cash couriers inside the Marawi main battle area during the siege. Some dead terrorists were found to possess cash ranging from P30,000 to P300,000. The Al Qaeda is known to utilize the informal hawala or padala system to fund terrorist attacks all over the world. Local residents have confirmed receiving money through hawala. It is an unregistered remittance scheme.
Bongbong Marcos is greatly involved in the rehabilitation of Leyte after Super Typhoon Yolanda four years ago in his personal capacity as the cousin of Tacloban Mayor, Alfred Romualdez. Rejected Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo who insists that no billions of pesos worth of funds reached the department during her tenure has no replacement yet. She, however, shows her reluctance to work with Bongbong Marcos if ever he becomes a part of President Du30’s cabinet in an interview. Taguiwalo is a notable anti-Marcos as a leftist. It’s a different ball game now because if there was no Marcos before, there’s definitely no Taguiwalo now. Although the hope for Marcos’ return is still on the rise with the pending recount on his electoral protest against Leni Robredo.
[VIDEO]: Rejected Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said she is not sure what would happen if Senator Bongbong Marcos joins the cabinet of President-elect Rodrigo Du30.
Taguiwalo’s CA Rejection
Taguiwalo was the third Cabinet member rejected by the CA. The social activist-educator would remain the President’s friend. It is also unlikely that Vice President Leni Robredo can replace Taguiwal. Some netizens recommend this in an online survey. It is an uncomfortable scenario if the President allows that. She is known to oppose all the major moves of Du30 behind his back. Not during cabinet meetings.
The Government’s Commitment
The country commemorates the fourth anniversary of Super Typhoon Yolanda. Its international name is Haiyan. Malacañang reaffirms the government’s commitment to rebuilding communities affected by the disaster. This is amidst continued cries for shelter among victims. Palace spokesman Harry Roque assures the public that President Rodrigo Du30 would not turn his back on Yolanda victims. The Du30 administration learned from the past mistakes of the Aquino government when it comes to dealing with Yolanda’s devastation.
Du30 visited Yolanda victims in Tacloban City last year. He openly expressed his frustration over the slow housing projects for the super typhoon survivors. The Chief Executive returned to Tacloban in January. he still complains that not all his expectations are met. This year, however, Du30 is not in the country during the Yolanda anniversary, November 8. He attends the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Vietnam. This could be very handy for Bongbong Marcos if he is the Vice President.
Bongbong Marcos’ Passionate Hand Might be Needed
The National Housing Authority or NHA data shows that 205,128 houses are for construction. But only 11.4 percent are occupied. Only 33 percent is complete. Although they believe that the real figures are much lower. Roque said that the President backs moves to hold those who caused delays in housing projects accountable. This is for their apparent negligence. Bongbong Marcos has yet to comment on this. Perhaps, his involvement is needed here. Also, Senator Manny Pacquiao earlier suggested conducting a Senate probe where the big chunk of Yolanda funds went.