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Release coco levy fund – Kiko

It’s about time.

Returning Sen. Francis “Kiko” N. Pangilinan, former Philippine Coconut Authority chairman, issued this reaction to recent pronouncements by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte made through incoming Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol that the administration would pursue the release of the P72-billion coco levy fund.

“We are hopeful that justice for the exploitation and the deprivation suffered by our coconut farmers for over four decades will soon be rendered,” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan served as chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Food Committee from 2010 to 2013 during his second term as senator. He also held a Cabinet rank in the last half of the six-year tenure of the Aquino administration which expires on June 30.

The coco levy fund started during the martial law period in 1973 where a levy of 55 centavo per 100 kilogram was collected from each coconut farmer as means to “stabilize” market prices of coconut-based consumer goods like cooking oil.

It was increased to P20 in 1974 to “finance” the development of a hybrid coconut tree, with the PCA acting as conduit and oversight.

Pangilinan recalled that the coconut farmers protested that they did not benefit from the levy. (Mario B. Casayuran)