the coco levy loot

18 July 2013

so will someone please tell us coco-levy victims how much the Fund is now, kahit approximately lang, given the latest supreme court ruling?  acc to inquirer:

The value of the contested shares was not immediately known, but a former UCPB director said it was a “pittance” compared to the 20 percent of the sequestered shares of stock in San Miguel Corp. (SMC), worth P60 billion, awarded to Cojuangco by the court last year.

Another block of 27 percent of sequestered SMC shares, likewise acquired with the levy money, was awarded by the court in a decision, also finalized last year, to the farmers to be used for their benefit and the development of the coconut industry. It was worth more than P70 billion.

that makes php 130 billion, plus this latest “pittance” from UCPB shares, some “26 B for government,” or so i heard on coco alcuaz’s business news the other night.  that would make 156 B all in all.  but wait, former phil coconut authority chairman jose v. romero says it’s less:

… some P70 billion in financials assets and probably the same amount in fixed assets.

ano ba talaga?  who is keeping count?  will we coconut landowners across the country, who put up the seed money of 96 Billion, collected by marcos and enrile over cllose to ten years of oppression, ever be told, in detail, how much there is in cash and stocks or whatever?  or will it take a freedom of information act, the people’s version?

i’m tending to think, correct me if i’m wrong, that the government does not really want to call too much attention to the coco levy loot — and media, good old mediocre media is being quite obliging, wittingly or un- — because, wow, ang daming pera, di na kailangang mangutang, tamang tama for the aquino admin’s many expenditures like, you know, the pork barrel (for ghost projects), the conditional cash transfer for the pantawid pamilya program (unsustainable), the pambayad daw sa mga coujangco&aquino for hacienda luisita (unjustifiable), and even, pangkampanya daw for the president’s annointed in 2016, sana hindi.

Romero: … the industry is awash with money creating a mad scramble for its use among government entities acting like hungry dogs over a piece of meat. Unless properly managed this could easily produce a moral hazard—defined as the propensity of government to indulge in a spending orgy that will not redound to the interest of the beneficial owners of the fund—the coconut industry.

in truth, my sibs and I are beginning to feel like human rights victims of martial law who have been waiting for justice and compensation like forever.  we weren’t physically detained or tortured, and we’re not impoverished coconut farmers, but like every coconut land-owner, poor and middle-class alike, from 1973 to 1982 we were, like, mentally and emotionally and materially abused, forced to pay the coco levy under false pretenses, the promise of development never materializing then, and it certainly is looking like it’s not going to materialize now.  because, really, nothing has changed.

During the Marcos Regime, a coconut monopoly was set up primarily using coco levy fund collections. From trading to hauling, processing and milling, marketing and export — all these were run by a few privileged business interests identified with Marcos.

Most of the levy was controlled by the PCA, the COCOFED and other organizations controlled by Enrile and Cojuangco. PCA decided that Enrile and Cojuangco could use 10 per cent of the levy for investment purposes. It was this provision that permitted the two to totally integrate the industry vertically23 and complete their monopoly. They created two conglomerates within the coconut industry, the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), which concentrated on finance, and the United Coconut Mills (Unicom) which focused on manufacturing and trade. Again the point is that capital was transferred from the coconut production and into non-productive sectors like finance and to a certain degree into manufacturing and trade.

back then, marcos and his top cronies simply took over the money and proceeded to enrich themselves and other big players in the coconut industry, at our expense.  today, the powers-that-be continue to refuse to share the coco levy loot with us coconut landowners who put up the 9.6 Billion seed money.  agriculture sec alcala is pompously adamant:

Instead, the assets should be used to rehabilitate and modernize the industry so the benefits would trickle down to the poorest coconut farmer, he said. 

trickle down.  hello.  bumenta na yan.  discredited na yan.  nothing ever trickles down.  as to why alcala slams the door on any cash distribution to us poor, yes, us poor abused coconut landowners, read this and weep.

Alcala feared the heirs of deceased coconut farmers and the government would end up embroiled in divisive and costly cases in court to determine who among them would be the legal recipients of the share of the levy contributors.

“Most of the levy contributors were already dead. If the government would resort to cash distribution, many of the heirs would file complaints on charges of unequal distributions,” Alcala told reporters in Mulanay, Quezon, on Wednesday on the sideline of the Department of Agrarian Reform land distribution program.

When Alcala was reminded that the Coconut Farmers Federation maintained records of the levy contributors, he shrugged his shoulder and replied: “I don’t know.” 

aha.  so there’s a list pala, except that alcala doesn’t deign dignify it.  his beef is that heirs of the dead might also want to be paid.  but why ever not?  it’s not as if we want all 150B, but we do want fair returns-on-investment. and surely the bright boys of the aquino admin can come up with a scheme that will make not only the big players, but us small coco levy victims, happy, too?

but the worst news yet on government’s plans for the dying coconut industry is this: according to charlie manalo in the tribune, “even if a huge chunk” of the coco levy fund actually came from the contribution of the coconut farmers in quezon (where i’m from) and laguna. both provinces are not included in the dept of budget and management’s priority areas that would supposedly benefit from the coconut levy funds.  butch abad’s dept of budget and management memo of april 25

… listed only 12 provinces under the Integrated Coconut Industry and Poverty Reduction Roadmap as “priority areas for program convergence (tenurial reform, agricultural productivity programs, industry development, infrastructure development, social services, and climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction and mitigation measures) in the 2014 budget.”

playing politics, obviously.  so what else is new.  if my mother were alive, she’d be saying, “parang si marcos din lang sila, puro magnanakaw [they’re just like marcos, all thieves]!”  senator joker arroyo puts it more kindly re aquino and the marcoses: “birds of the same feather.”  yes.  a plague on both their greedy houses flocks.

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coco levy blues

‘Strongest testament to Marcos plunder’ 
For coco farmers only
Keep their dirty hands off… 
Coco levy eyed for P10-billion Hacienda Luisita payment 

2 Responses to the coco levy loot

  1. March 15, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    The government this week bucked Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr.’s motion to dismiss a civil case involving a bid to “defraud the government of P426 million invested to produce hybrid coconut seedlings in Palawan.” http://opinion.inquirer.net/72593/shoddy-relatives

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