Farmers Say Palace Influenced
PCGG Stance on Coco Levy Issue
by Rafael Mariano, KMP National Chairperson
December 4, 2001
Protest aiming for the immediate recovery of the controversial P130 billion coconut levy funds from the hands of business tycoon Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco started today when more than 200 farmers belonging to the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Piltpinas (KMP) trooped to Mendiola bridge warning of more protests to come.
The peasant group assailed the President's so-called "meeting" on Monday evening with the Philippine Commission on Good Government (PCGG) for it to officially explain in detail its position on the matter.
"Is there really a need for the PCGG to explain the issue to the President? The farmers clamor to recover the coco levy funds from the hands of Danding Cojuangco already explains in detail what is to be done," says KMP chairperson Rafael Mariano.
The peasant group sald that PCGG Commissioner Haydee Yorac's statement that it (PCGG) was not against the expeditious release of the coco levy funds was very alarming.
The KMP quoted Yorac's statement in the Inquirer that "For as long as the settlement is just, legal, and not contrary to morals and public policy, the PCGG will support it and ask the courts to approve it."
"See what happened, the meeting with the President has directly influenced the PCGG by having an open-door policy for a compromise settlement with Cojuangco and Lobregat. The coco levy fund issue is a matter of social justice to small coconut farmers. Dealing with thieves is highly immoral," he stressed.
To prove their claim, Mariano quoted Presidential spokesperson Rigoberto Tiglao's statement in the Inquirer stating "if they can amend (the agreement to meet the two conditlons, the PCGG is willing to consider it."
The KMP's Mariano also said Malacanang is misleading the people on the coconut levy fund issue saying the Palace wanted to confine the issue on the question af a compromise agreement and not the question of the funds' immediate return to small coconut farmers.
"The coco farmers' message is loud and clear, any kind of compromise with Danding has never been an option. The central issue at hand is the immediate recovery and return of the P130 billion coco levy fund to its real and legitimate owners, of which there are over 20 million, and not to insist on a compromise deal with plunderers," the peasant leader stressed.
The peasant group also said the meeting is aimed on giving a graceful exit for the President and that Malacañang's gag order against Dante Ang and Norberto Gonzales saying the order meant to cover up what really transpired on the October 28 dirty deal.
"One of the real intents of the Malacañang meeting is to insulate the President from the controversial secret deal with Cojuangco and Lobregat. They should first answer why Ang and Gonzales are on the October 28 secret deal," says Mariano.
The KMP warned that the protest is only the start of its sustained protest actions aimed at recovering the coconut levy funds.
"This is only the opening salvo of sustained protest actions to recover the coco levy funds. We are more than determined to reclaim what we believe is for the interest and welfare of small coconut farmers," he said.