Plight of Filipino Coconut Farmers

Duterte-Cayetano to exercise political will in addressing coconut farmers’ plight

“Panahon na para sa matapang na solusyon upang tapusin ang ilang dekadang paghihirap ng mga Pilipinong magniniyog.”

Vice presidential bet and Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said this as he assured coconut farmers in Quezon province that if elected, he and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will exercise political will in ensuring that the coco levy funds will finally reach its intended beneficiaries.

The senator made this assurance during his recent “Ronda-Serye” listening tour with coconut farmers in Lucena City on Thursday (April 28). During the dialogue, the farmers voiced out their long-standing plight regarding the delayed distribution of the multibillion-peso fund.

Cayetano, for his part, stressed that the government’s continuous inaction in giving back the money to the farmers has become “criminal.” He further lamented how previous administrations failed to recover the shares that went to Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr.’s San Miguel Corporation (SMC).

“If many candidates are afraid of Danding Cojuangco, Mayor Duterte and I are not. And while they keep on making promises they can’t keep, Mayor Duterte and I will just do it, we will just get things done for our poor farmers,” Cayetano said.

The tandem earlier signed a three-point manifesto, which aims to end what they described as “a systemic oppression of small coconut farmers.” They vowed to distribute the funds to the beneficiaries during the first 100 days of their term. They will do this by pushing for a legislation that will create a perpetual trust fund for coconut farmers.

Aside from the coco levy fund, Cayetano said they will also tap P1 billion from the national budget to serve as a Coconut Modernization Fund, to be used for the development of the country’s coconut industry. The tandem also vowed to work on pursuing all unrecovered shares from the assets acquired through the fund, including the 20-percent shares awarded to Cojuangco by the Supreme Court in 2011.

“Kaytagal nang nagtiis at naghirap ng ating mga magniniyog. Hindi nila kailangan ng pangako mula sa mga kandidatong protektor ng mayayaman at maimpluwensya. Ang kailangan nila ay mga lider na may political will at lakas ng loob na lumaban para sa kanila. Ito ang inaalok namin ni Mayor Duterte,” Cayetano said.

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