By Jose V. Romero
The highest court decided sometime ago that the coco levy funds are public funds, meaning that these are fiduciary funds kept in trust by the government for the development of the coconut industry as prescribed by the Marcos decrees authorizing the collection of such funds by the Philippine Coconut Authority in the seventies. It took the Supreme Court three decades to determine this issue, but never mind the money is there now to be deployed to develop an industry which is the principal source of income in most of the provinces and on which millions of coconut farmers depend on directly or indirectly for livelihood. The amount involved is substantial. The proceeds from the San Miguel stock alone in the name of the Coconut Industry Investment Fund—a coco levy funded enterprise is worth no less than P70 billion. If one were to take into account the other coco levy financed enterprises—the bank, insurance company, a coco chemical plant and oil mills the figure will quickly balloon to double the amount.