KMP, CLAIM hit Pangilinan’s P20K per farmer as cheap, dirty intrigue
The militant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the claimants movement Coco Levy Funds Ibalik sa Amin (CLAIM) today urged incoming agriculture secretary Manny Piñol to review the peasant groups’ Seven-Point Proposal for the return, distribution, and disposition of the multi-billion coconut levy funds to small coconut farmers.
The KMP and CLAIM clarified that “small coconut farmers are not demanding P20,000 cash” in response to recent reports stating that Piñol is “not in favour of the P20,000 per coconut farmer cash distribution of the coco levy funds and in support of the use of the funds for social benefits.”
“Small coconut farmers are not demanding P20,000. They are demanding the cash distribution of the coco levy money through social benefits, including but not limited to pension benefits, medical and hospitalization benefits, maternity benefits, and educational assistance including scholarships, among others,” says KMP secretary general Antonio Flores.
“In fact, the demands for social benefits are in harmony with incoming agriculture secretary Piñol’s idea,” Flores said.
“The P20,000 cash per coconut farmer is a pigment of the corrupt imagination of a comebacking senator who is hell-bent in pushing the privatization of small coconut farmers’ money,” says Arvin Borromeo, CLAIM – Quezon coordinator referring to senator-elect Francis Pangilinan’s who said that “if the P72 billion in the national treasury would be distributed outright to 3 million coconut farmers, each farmer would get only around P20,000.”
“Pangilinan’s cheap and dirty intrigue of P20,000 per coconut farmer is obviously aimed to divide the ranks of small coconut farmers and a desperate ploy to privatize the fund,” KMP’s Flores said.
“Pangilinan’s so-called perpetual trust fund scheme is designed to deny small coconut farmers, the legitimate owners of the fund, to exercise control and ownership rights over their money,” says Borromeo.
KMP and CLAIM reiterated calls for the creation of a Genuine Small Coconut Farmers’ Fund (GSCFF) coupled by a “Small Coconut Farmers’ Council” to thwart attempts to plunder the more than P72 billion coco levy money held by the government and “to ensure the cash distribution through other socio-economic benefits for small coconut farmers.”
Flores said “establishing small coconut farmers’ control over the funds is crucial for the legitimate owners to benefit from their own money that includes cash and other social benefits.”
“The coco levy fund collection was a scam. A nationwide extortion and schematic plunder orchestrated by the Marcos-Cojuangco clique,” Borromeo said adding: “having control (through the farmers’ fund and council) shall also pave the way for the turnover of coconut oil mills and other coco levy funded assets to small coconut farmers because these assets were acquired using our money.”
“All small coconut farmers should benefit from the fund including the heirs of coconut farmers who already died. It should not be limited to those who have receipts or certificates,” says Borromeo.
Borromeo added that the question of identification of genuine small coconut farmers can be resolved through coordination and facilitation with local government units, particularly at the barangay level.
Aside from social benefits in the form of cash, “socio-economic projects initiated by small coconut farmers and their organizations and/or cooperatives shall be financed by the Coconut Farmers’ Fund.”
The KMP and CLAIM said that socio-economic projects to be financed by the Genuine Small Coconut Farmers’ Fund would focus on “livelihood programs and projects meant to provide additional incomes to small coconut farmers; small and medium-scale coconut enterprises, marketing and trading mechanisms, inventions and innovations of machineries and equipment for the development of high-quality coconut and improvement of local coconut production; and programs that would provide loan facilities for small coconut farmers.”
The peasant groups added that “under a Genuine Small Coconut Farmers’ Fund, the entire coco levy fund and assets, including but not limited to the United Coconut Planters Bank and coco levy fund-acquired coconut oil mills, will be administered, utilized and used for the benefit of small coconut farmers and the genuine development of the coconut industry in support of national industrialization.”
Under the farmers groups’ proposal the Genuine Small Coconut Farmers’ Fund shall not be part of the general funds of the national government and “shall be used exclusively for the benefit of genuine small coconut farmers.” #