During the tandem’s “Ronda Serye” listening tour, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano assured coconut farmers of Legazpi, Albay that under their leadership, the farmers will finally benefit from the P71-billion coco levy fund. The duo said they can do this as they are not beholden to any political backer who has an interest on the fund.
“Hindi kami hawak sa leeg nino man. Walang makakahadlang sa amin ni Mayor Duterte upang bigyang katarungan ang ating maliliit na magniniyog at mapakinabangan na nila ang kanilang coco levy fund,” Cayetano said.
The tandem then presented their signed three-point manifesto entitled, “Panata para sa Maliliit na Magniniyog,” wherein they pledged to break the “cycle of abuse” that coconut farmers have suffered from. Duterte and Cayetano vowed before the farmers to implement the following “bold solutions” if they get elected:
1.) The distribution of the coco levy fund for the benefit of small coconut farmers and in consultation with legitimate farmers’ groups in their first 100 days in office
2.) Additional budget, over and above the coco levy funds, for the development and modernization of the coconut industry; and
3.) Help pursue the remaining part of the fund.
The duo’s proposals were welcomed by the Coconut Industry Reform (COIR) Movement Inc.
“Mabibigat ang mga iniwang salita ni Mayor Duterte at Sen. Cayetano sa mga magniniyog na in the first 100 days (of their term), may matitikman na agad ang mga magniniyog (mula sa coco levy funds). Pinakamahalaga, bukas sila doon sa hindi pa nababawi na bahagi ng coco levy funds at ito’y kanilang aasikasuhin,” COIR Spokesperson Joey Faustino noted.
Faustino also slammed recent statements made by Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero absolving Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Jr. from any guilt for the delay in the funds’ deployment. Cayetano earlier said Poe’s position was grossly erroneous, noting how two 2015 executive orders for the supposed distribution of the funds were suspended due to a petition filed the Philippine Coconut Producers Federation (COCOFED), Cojuangco’s alleged dummy organization.
“Hindi pupwede sa isyu na ito ang mga protektor ng mayayaman at monopolista. Sobra na ang pagbibingi-bingihan ng ibang opisyal sa mga hinaing ng sektor ng agrikultura. Ang iba, kung hindi pinapatay sa kapabayaan ng gobyerno, pinapatay naman gamit ang dahas,” Cayetano said, referring to the recent attack of police forces against local farmers during a violent dispersal of a protest action in Kidapawan City.
Aside from seeking justice for the Kidapawan farmers, Cayetano said if elected, he and Duterte will end the government’s systemic neglect of the people’s demand for real change. To address farmers’ concerns, they vowed to implement 100% free irrigation, subsidize production inputs, and allot P1 billion per region for a capital-lending scheme for farmers.
“Panahon na para tapusin ang lahat ng kaguluhang ito. Panahon na para lumikha ng tunay na pagbabago. Under our leadership, no farmer will ever be killed or neglected by the state. Mayor Duterte and I will make sure that their welfare will be safeguarded. The producers of our food will also have food on their own tables,” Cayetano ended. /DC-HQ