March 14, 2016
QUEZON CITY – Partylist coalition Sanlakas called out all candidates vying for national positions to cease finger-pointing and politicking for “all of them are liable in varying degrees” for the much-delayed release of the 93 billion peso coco levy funds to the coconut farmers.”
The group scored all opposing camps for trying to pin the blame on each other for each others’ inaction when “all of them were incumbent senators, cabinet ministers and or simply part of the bureaucracy that failed to deliver justice to the thousands of coconut farmers victimized by forced taxation under the Marcos dictatorship”.
“Washing their dirty hands of any accountability is not advancing the interests of the poor farmers but merely saving their own skins from an electoral verdict come May ninth,” said Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, Sanlakas secretary general and nominee.
He added that, “Nor will all any amount of damage control by their PR operators conjure what they failed to accomplish in the past three or more years in public office. The electorate will be the judge of their culpability”.
The finger-pointing stemmed from a shout out made by senatorial aspirant Kiko Pangilinan to fellow candidates to prioritize the release of the funds once elected that led to a free-for-all among the electoral aspirants.
“All this does is add insult to injury – accusing each other or protecting their patrons as the bellies of the poor farmers and their families grumble day in day out for more than four decades now.
The injustice to the coconut farmers has gone too far too long wrought by the back-breaking coco levy from 1973 up to 1982, the plunder of the funds by Danding Cojuangco and cohorts to buy majority shares of San Miguel Corporation, notwithstanding the protracted legal battle for nearly thirty years only to be given false hope under this administration,” Pedrosa cited.
Aquino most accountable
The group reserved their most bitter criticism for the Aquino government for “doing too little, too late” to abide by the Supreme Court decision on the ownership of the funds and its return to the poor farmers.
Pedrosa explained that, “Certifying a bill as urgent is not enough. We all know that Malacañang has all the power and means to serve justice for the farmers, but true to his haciendero character he elected to suffer their impoverished conditions in the midst of a declining coconut industry”.
“On many instances in the 15th and 16th Congress, have we seen the Aquino administration move mountains to get what it wants or reject what it doesn’t want from the legislative body. The re-legitimization of “savings” through the GAA Law passed in 2015, despite the declaration of unconstitutionality of DAP easily comes to mind. Or, more recently, when Aquino blocked the passage of the P2,000 increase of SSS pension by a simple veto,” he insisted.
The group likewise announced that they are now coordinating with organizations of coconut farmers that will march from the provinces in the coming weeks to push for the return of the coco levy funds.
Agrarian reform and financial and technical assistance to farmers are included in the seven point platform of Sanlakas partylist.