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No reason to delay farmers’ benefits from coco levy —KILUS Magniniyog

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 8/10/2018 Sollorano, Vic
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Distributing the P74-billion coco levy funds for the benefit of coconut farmers must not be  delayed any further after the anti-graft court has ruled that the funds are state-owned, an industry group said Friday.

“The Sandiganbayan ruling only reaffirms the Supreme Court’s decision on the coco levy funds—long ruled with finality in 2014,” KILUS Magniniyog told GMA News Online.

An estimated P74 billion worth of assets from the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF) belong to the government and should be distributed to coconut farmers, the Sandiganbayan has ruled.

It overturned its 2017 decision calling for more hearings on the civil case involving United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) and the Coconut Planters Life Assurance Corporation (Cocolife) by granting the government’s motion for reconsideration.

In 2014, the SC ruled with finality on a separate decision of the Sandiganbayan that the government was the rightful owner of the coco levy funds.

“Without doubt, all coco levy funds and assets rightly belong to coconut farmers now held in trust by the government,” according to KILUS Magniniyog.

Romulo dela Rosa, the administrator of Philippine Coconut Authority, emphasized that the Sandiganbayan removed any legal impediment to an upcoming law establishing a trust fund for coconut farmers.

The bicameral conference committee approved last week a bill creating a 25-year, P100-billion coco levy trust fund for the benefit of 3.5 million coconut farmers.

The bill states that the fund must be invested in Treasury bills and handled by the Philippine Coconut Authority.

In his State of the Nation Address on July 23, President Duterte urged Congress to pass a law creating a coconut farmers’ trust fund. —VDS, GMA News

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