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A government official on Wednesday urged critics to stop opposing the use of the coconut-levy funds.

Office of the Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (Pafsam) Secretary Francis N. Pangilinan said prolonging the legal dispute over the use of the funds will prevent the coconut farmers from benefiting from its use.

 Using the fund judiciously to ensure our coco farmers finally benefit from the fund after decades of bitter legal entanglements is the way forward,  Pangilinan said in a statement.

This is after the Supreme Court (SC) issued on Tuesday a temporary restraining order (TRO) suspending the implementation of Executive Orders (EOs) 179 and 180 issued by President Aquino for the utilization of the P73.4-billion coco-levy funds.

Pangilinan said he is hoping that the matter can be resolved with dispatch.

 The solution is the judicious use of the funds, not the knee-jerk opposition to its use and the filing of cases to prevent its use. EOs 179 and 180 were meant to ensure that the coco-levy funds are used judiciously,  he said.

Pangilinan also urged the government and the critics to end the legal dispute over the funds.

 We cannot be suing each other forever. By doing so, the reforms we seek will be further delayed. We need to move forward, and getting the fund out of the way of legal disputes is a necessary first step,  he said.

The Pafsam oversees four executive agencies previously under the Department of Agriculture, including the Philippine Coconut Association.

Under EO 179 are the guidelines provided by the government for the inventory and privatization of coco-levy assets.

Meanwhile, EO 180 mandated the reconveyance and utilization of the assets for the benefit of coconut farmers and the development of the coconut industry.

The TRO was granted by the SC in response to the petition filed by the Confederation of Coconut Farmers Association of the Philippines Inc.

 

By Mary Grace Padin

Thursday, July 2, 2015
B2-1
Pangilinan Calls for Judicious Use, not Knee-jerk Opposition to, Coco-levy Fund Deployment