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Duterte: Coco levy fund collected during Marcos era back to farmers

President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday that he fulfilled his promise to return coconut levy fund to the farmers with the passage of the Coconut Farmers Trust Fund bill.

"We fulfilled our promise to coconut farmers. We returned the coconut levy fund to its rightful owners — the coconut farmers," Duterte said during his final State of the Nation Address (SONA).

"The fund is estimated to be at P75 billion for the benefit of the farmers and the development of coconut industry," Duterte added.

The coconut levy fund was collected from farmers during Ferdinand Marcos' martial law regime supposedly for programs for the benefit of coconut farmers. Instead, it was used by the government to buy a large percentage of the United Coconut Planters Bank by Marcos’ crony and San Miguel Corp. chief Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr.

The passage of the Coconut Farmers Trust Fund bill came seven years after the the Supreme Court ruled that the P71 billion worth of coconut levy fund used to purchase San Miguel Corporation during the tenure of dictator Marcos belongs to the government.

The same decision provides that such funding should be used solely for the benefit of coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry.

During his final SONA, the President has also cited passage of the Rice Tariffication and Free Irrigation laws for the benefit of the agricultural sector.—LDF, GMA News