Transfer coco levy funds to treasury — De Lima

The multi-billion-peso coconut levy funds  including the shares in the San Miguel Corp.  and their proceeds, should now be transferred without further delay to the national treasury.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima made the suggestion after the Supreme Court dismissed what she described as another “legal machination” to set aside  a  previous decisions awarding a block of shares in SMC registered in the names of   Coconut Industry Investment Fund and its holding  companies to the government for being part of the ill-gotten wealth.

De Lima also branded as “backdoor legal maneuver” the petition for declaratory relief filed by UCPB and Cocolife before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City seeking to assert   their right and ownership    over CIIF’s shares in SMC.

De Lima admitted that another petition filed by Confederation of Coconut Farmers Organization of the Philippines remains a stumbling block in the government’s bid to get hold of and utilize the coco levy funds.  

“We must see these cases for what they are, as last ditch feeble attempts by powerful interest groups to once again rob our coconut farmers of what has already been duly declared to be theirs by the SC,” she said.

It was the court that granted the plea of CCFOP for the issuance of a temporary restraining order enjoining the implementation of Executive Order Nos. 179 and 180 issued by President Aquino that require the privatization, reconveyance of coconut levy funds amounting to at least P73.4 billion to the government and its utilization. 

EO No. 179 requires the inventory and privatization; and reconveyance in favor of the government of all coconut levy assets, including, but not limited to, the shares of stock in the      United Coconut Planters Bank, Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF) Companies and CIIF Holding Companies and the 5,500,000 SMC shares registered in the named of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) as arbitration fee, within 60 days from its effectivity.

It also directed that all money and funds constituting the coconut levy or accruing from the coco levy assets should be deposited to a Special Account in the General Fund for Coco Levies.  

On the other hand, Executive Order No. 180 ordered the immediate transfer and reconveyance of coco levy assets to the government and its uilization after the approval by President Aquino of the “Integrated Coconut Industry Roadmap and the Coconut Roadmap for Coco Levy.”

In their petition. the CCFOP said   the implementation of the two EOs would result to new plunder of coco levy funds.  

The group claimed that the  EOs violate the SC ruling issued on January    2012 which held that the said funds are “owned by the government to be used only for the benefit of all coconut farmers and for the developmentt of the coconut industry.” 

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