Supreme Court TRO stops action on Coco Levy fund

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Whoever is behind the mass action by farmers from the Southern Luzon Region to press President Rody Duterte to fulfil his commitment to release the coco levy fund is either misinformed or misleading the poor farmers.

Here is the real score on the coco levy fund.

Right after his assumption to office as the 16th President, Rody Duterte started working on his commitments to the Filipino farmers.

On his instructions and despite the refusal by the top officials of the National Irrigation

Administration (NIA) themselves, I worked on the realisation of his Free Irrigation commitment.
It has been done with the help of the Senate and Congress who allocated P2.3-B to cover the irrigation service fees and starting 2017 there will be free irrigation.

He also instructed me to work on the immediate release and utilisation of the Coconut Levy Fund so that this would help the country's coconut farmers.

I also worked on this along with the Presidential Legislative Liaison Officer, Sec. Avelino Sitoy, and Dept. of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Sec. Rafael Mariano.

In our last meeting in Malacañang, it was made clear that even with the Presidential directive to work on the release of the Coco Levy Fund, there is a pending Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court which enjoins government from touching, releasing or disbursing the Coco Levy Fund.

This is what stops President Duterte from fulfilling his commitment to release the Coco Levy Fund.
In spite of that legal impediment, the Presidential Working Group on Coco Levy has agreed to work on the details on how to release and utilise the fund.

We the members of the Presidential Working Group agreed on this so that when the time comes when the Supreme Court finally lifts the TRO, the release and utilisation of the Coco Levy Fund could be implemented right away.

Government lawyers led by Solicitor General Jose Calida are also working hard on this because they are aware of President Duterte's commitment to the coconut farmers.
But until such time the TRO is lifted, President Duterte's hands are tied.
So there you are guys. This is the real score.

Now, unless the organisers of the march have other hidden agenda than just work for the release of the Coco Levy Funds, the best thing for them to do is support the efforts of Solgen Calida and government lawyers in convincing the Supreme Court to lift the TRO.

By Manny Piñol

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