Sunday, December 14, 2014

Villar welcomes SC ruling releasing P60B coco levy funds

MANILA-Sen. Cynthia Villar today welcomed the Supreme Court (SC) decision paving the way for the release of coconut levy funds amounting to P60 billion for the benefit of the 3.5 million coconut farmers in the country.

“This partial release of the P100 billion fund is a step in the right direction. We congratulate the coconut farmers for this victory. With this amount, a trust fund can be created to bankroll programs that will directly benefit coconut farmers,” Villar said.

On Wednesday, seven magistrates, namely Chief Justice Loudes Sereno and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco, Jr., Mariano del Castillo, Martin Villarama Jr., Jose Mendoza, Bienvenido Reyes, and Marvic Leonen unanimously voted for the immediate issuance of the judgment concerning SC’s Sept. 4, 2012 resolution, causing its execution.

The court in its 2012 decision, declared 753,848,312 San Miguel Corp. shares as public funds as they were acquired through taxes levied on coconut farmers during martial law.

“The coconut farmers who earn only P50 a day are the poorest in our country. The levy funds rightfully belongs to the farmers and should be used to improve their condition,” she said.

Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, authored Senate Bill2126 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act, which seeks to establish a trust fund that will pay for the implementation of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan.
The bill mandates the creation of the Coconut Farmers and Industry fund, a trust fund which shall be perpetually maintained for the development of the coconut industry for the ultimate benefit of coconut farmers and farm workers.

Under the bill, the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan will be prepared for the development and rehabilitation of the coconut industry. It will include, among others, a national program for coconut productivity, replanting, intercropping, rehabilitation, scientific and medical research, crop protection, crop insurance, integrated downstream processing, and market promotion.

It will also include local programs that directly benefit small coconut farmers and farm workers, such as medical and health and life insurance services, educational scholarships for deserving students coming from families of coconut farmers, or beneficiaries of the coconut levy funds.

In a dialogue with the KM71 coconut farmers who marched from as far as Davao to Manila to push for the creation of the coco levy trust fund, Villar gave the assurance that the bill will be passed early 2015.


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