Duterte promises farmers: I will return coco levy fund

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During his visit in the province of Quezon on Wednesday (March 30), presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte vowed to return the coconut levy fund to farmers should he become president.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — PDP-Laban presidential bet Rodrigo Duterte vowed to distribute the multibillion-peso coco levy fund to coconut farmers, the soonest possible time, should he win the upcoming elections in May.

The Davao City mayor and his running mate Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, during their campaign on Wednesday (March 30), talked to a group of local farmers in Catanauan, Quezon.

"Sa lahat ng commitments namin, pag ako'y nahalal, ibabalik ko sa inyo ang pera mula coco levy sa lalong madaling panahon," he said.

[Translation: Of all our commitments, if I get elected, I will return the coconut levy fund to you at the soonest possible time.]

The coco levy fund came from taxes imposed on coconut farmers during the martial law era by alleged cronies of then President Ferdinand Marcos, including the uncle of President Benigno Aquino III, Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco.

The fund was allegedly used to acquire the United Coconut Planters Bank, San Miguel Corporation, and other businesses.

President Aquino earlier issued two Executive Orders (EO) aiming to privatize the coco levy funds, but the Supreme Court stopped the implementation of the EOs in June 2015 — granting a petition by the Confederation of Coconut Farmers Organization.

Once president, Duterte said he would force the issue with Congress if there comes a need for census.

"It will be done. I can guarantee that to you. Hintay lang kayo [just wait]," Duterte said.

He and Cayetano also showed farmers their tandem's commitment card, which indicates that they will return the coconut levy fund in their first 100 days in office.


It also said their government will provide additional budget to strengthen the coconut industry, in terms of infrastructure, research and marketing.

The tandem also committed quarterly consultations with farmers to hear out their concerns.

Quezon is one the biggest producers of coconut products such as coconut oil and copra.

It is also one of the vote-rich provinces in the country, with over a million registered voters.

CNN Philippines correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.