“Cocorakot?” (Coconut Levy Scam?)

Program: Cheche Lazaro Presents (Episode 17)
Presented by: Unlimited Productions, Inc. and ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs
Aired on: September 14, 2013 (ABS-CBN Sunday’s Best)

VIDEO LINK: http://www.probetv.com/2014/04/clp-17-cocorakot/

After ousting two presidents for alleged plunder of government coffers, Filipino netizens are looking at people power again this time to get rid of the graft-tainted pork barrel.

Dubbed a “Million People March to Luneta,” the protest, launched through social media, calls on every Filipino to go to Luneta on August 26, National Heroes’ Day, to collectively express outrage over the way government funds are squandered and stolen by thieves masquerading as do-gooders and working hand in glove with public officials.

The trigger: the P10-billion pork scam allegedly engineered by businesswoman-turned-fugitive Janet Lim-Napoles, whose connections to high-ranking lawmakers have unraveled with every bogus non-government organization and ghost projects traced to her name.

Filipinos have lived through so many scandals and scams in the last few years that anti-martial-law cries of “Never Again!” seem to have lost its meaning.

This September, Cheche Lazaro Presents revisits the acknowledged “scam” of biggest proportions, perpetrated during martial law, that still awaits closure for some 20-million coconut farmers and a nation that is cursed by its short memory.

Broadcast journalist Cheche Lazaro goes to the poorest of the poor to retrace the coconut levy that was extracted exactly 40 years ago from coconut farmers, who to this day are fighting to reclaim the multi-billion-peso fund now estimated at P200 billion. The farmers are said to be waging a war in two fronts: 1) challenging the Supreme Court decision that awarded a sizable portion of the fund, representing 20 percent of San Miguel Corp. shares worth P80 billion, to businessman Eduardo Cojuangco; and 2) making sure that the remaining funds are not misused by the government and used for the real benefit of all coconut farmers and the entire coconut industry.

A very complex case that many farmers themselves cannot fathom, the coco levy fund is the subject of eight lawsuits that have been gathering dust for almost 30 years.

Using declassified State Department documents on how the Marcos government controlled the coconut industry and first-hand accounts of stakeholders as well as major players, Cheche Lazaro Presents breaks down barriers and tells a saga of an unresolved past that continues to haunt today’s generation.


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