Saturday, June 12, 2010

Aquino urged to seize coco levy fund from Uncle Danding

MANILA, Philippines - Militant group Anakpawis challenged incoming President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to make good on his promise to fight corruption and fast-track the recovery of the coco levy fund from his uncle, businessman Eduardo "Danding" Cojuanco.

Anakpawis partylist Rep. Rafael Mariano said it was high time for Aquino to focus on resolving the decade-old issue involving the multibillion-peso coco levy fund that coconut farmers have yet to benefit from.

Mariano feared that Cojuanco, who was accused of purchasing shares in diversifying conglomerate San Miguel Corp. through coco levy over 2 decades ago, would attempt to use his clout to evade charges and secure sweetheart deals.

But Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) Commissioner Ricardo Abcede said it was not fair to put the responsibility of recovering the coco levy fund on the shoulders of Aquino, since the decision on the case was up to the Supreme Court.

The PCGG is the government agency tasked to oversee assets sequestered from late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his allies, including Cojuanco.

Abcede said it was the Supreme Court that should speed up the resolution of the string of coco levy-related cases.

The moment a decision is made, he said, Aquino may now step into the picture and decide how best to use the money.

Abcede noted that President Arroyo's original plan for the coco levy fund was to put in in a foundation that would benefit some 18 million coconut farmers in the country.

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