This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
(From The People’s Press December 2011)
The 7-day march to recover the Coco Levy Fund. Photo shows the marchers as they reached the Supreme Court in Padre Faura Street, Manila on November 29.
A seven-day march, which started in Lucena City, Quezon on November 24, was launched to recover the coco levy fund. One hundred twenty (120) farmers belonging to the KATARUNGAN, COCO FARMQuezon and ALYANSA KANAYUNAN from Southern Tagalog joined the march. On November 28, the march arrived in Laguna and passed through Calauan, Los Baños, Calamba City and Sta. Rosa with other farmer groups joining the march. On November 29, the march reached Manila and was joined by various civil society organizations including the Project Development Institute.
The PDI contingent as they join the 7-day march in Taft Avenue, Manila
To recall: The Coco Levy Fund Scam was a controversy in the 1970s and 80's involving former President Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies. It is alleged that Marcos, Danding Cojuangco, Juan Ponce Enrile, and others conspired to tax coconut farmers, promising in return the development of the coconut industry and a share in the investments. On the contrary the funds were used for personal profit particularly for the purchase of United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) and a majority stake in San Miguel Corporation (SMC). Today the Fund is estimated to have ballooned in the range of P100-150 billion in assets.
Paragos chairman, Ka Jimmy Tadeo, speaking on the Coco Levy Fund scam.
The march culminated in a rally in front of the Supreme Court to condemn its ruling in favor of Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco. Last April 2011, the High Tribunal ruled in favor of Cojuangco and reversed the 2007 Sandiganbayan ruling which declared that Cojuangco’s 20% shares of stock in San Miguel Corporation was acquired using the coco levy fund.
A statement of support for the farmers signed by CBCP-NASSA National Director Bishop Broderick Pabillo, DD; Senator Wigberto Tanada, Ka Oca Santos and hundreds of peoples organizations, states, “Ang tatlong dekadang pakikibaka ng mga magsasaka ng niyog upang kilalanin ang kanilang mga karapatan sa pagmamay-ari ng coco levy ay sumasalamin sa labis na kamalian sa ating sistemang pangkatarungan. Sa kabila ng pasya ng Sandigan Bayan noong 2004 na nagpapatibay na ang pondo ay tunay na pampubliko, at ang mga magniniyog ay ang dapat makinabang sa Coco Levy, sila ay nanatili pa ring namumuhay sa sukdulang kasalatan at matinding kahirapan.” (“The three decades of coconut farmers’ struggle for the recognition of their right to the coco levy fund reflects the overwhelming mistakes of our justice system. Despite the 2004 Sandigan Bayan’s decision recognizing the fund as genuinely public, and that the coconut farmers should benefit from the Coco Levy, they still lead lives of extreme need and poverty.”)
The 7-day march as it reached Taft Avenue, Manila
The coconut farmers asked the Supreme Court to declare them as the real owners of the coco levy fund. They also asked President Aquino for his support. Meanwhile, Ed Mora, head of the Panlipunang Kapisanan ng mga Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (PKMP), said in an interview that they are hopeful that this time the government would be on their side. “Sana’y papasko sa amin ng Supreme Court ang pagkaloob nitong coco levy fund sa aming tunay na nagmamay-ari na mga magsasaka ng niyog” (We hope that this Christmas season the Supreme Court would finally rule in favor of the coconut farmers who genuinely own the coco levy funds).
Ed Mora, PKMP head.
Then picket-rally in front of the DAR central office in Quezon City.
Finally on November 30, the long walk continued and reached the Department of Agrarian Reform Central Office in Quezon City where they conducted a program to end the 7-day march. But the marchers put up a camp-out in front of the DAR office as a continuation of their struggle. On December 4, the whole mass action was formally ended on a picketrally in front of that government office with a call “Save Agrarian Reform” where the protestors make a symbolic protest noise by loudly shouting slogans and The symbolic protest noise by heavily banging with stones the heavily banging with stones the DAR DAR office gate. office gate. Written by Ramon T. Ayco, Sr.; edited by Ms. Ely M. Santos.