TAGBILARAN CITY – The long wait maybe painful for Bohol coconut farmers who are longing to benefit from the Php60 billion coco levy fund now being declared as public funds following the protracted legal battle since former strongman President Ferdinand Marcos fled the country in 1986 following the people power revolution.
The fund is there already but as to how to manage it creates a gridlock and a lot of sectors wanted to do it, Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) here said. It did not name who or what these sectors or entities who wanted to manage the recovered coco levy fund.
PCA said that it wanted to be the sole agency to handle the funds so that it could program them for the benefit of millions of coco farmers in the country. PCA said that it would just wait for the decision of the higher ups what to do with the fund.
“In the 2012 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the Sandiganbayan’s ruling declaring the SMC shares public funds, as they were acquired through coco levy funds. The shares were registered under the Coconut Industry Investment Fund and its holding companies. In its last en banc session for the year, the court granted the Philippine government’s motion for partial entry of judgment on 753,848,312 shares in the San Miguel Corp. (SMC), a 31-percent Series 1 block purchased through taxes levied on coco farmers during martial law,” the report said.
Meanwhile, PCA said that prices of copra are good in this season with “resicada” pegged at Php28.75/kilo while “pasa” at Php21.75/kilo.
The province of Bohol has a total of 10,640,000 plus coconut fruit-bearing (trees) planted in some 104,000 hectares. Some 174,000 farmers are tilling the trees, Primo Galindez, officer-in-charge here, said.
But only some 87,000 farmers registered with the agency. The rest remain unregistered, it said. And it’s urging those unregistered to visit PCA office in Tagbilaran City.
PCA is still providing coco seedlings for replacement for those already old trees. Sixty-year old trees are not anymore bearing fruits and should be cut for lumber purposes, it said.
The agency maintains a three-hectare of seedling nursery in Loay and another 150 hectares in Ubay town, PCA said.
Production of the coconuts is placed at 90-95 nuts per /tree/year average if fully fertilized. Those trees that are not fertilized produced only some 35 nuts/tree/year. A kilo of copra is produced from four nuts. (rvo)