Task force recommendations on coco levy out soon
MANILA, Philippines - The Presidential Task Force on the Coco Levy Fund (PTFCL) will meet again on October 5 to determine what should be done with recovered coco levy assets.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said among the things that will be addressed during the meeting is the 24% stake in San Miguel Corp that was awarded by the Supreme Court to the government.
"The President has asked the PTFCL to come up with a report and recommendations on the issues surrounding the coco levy funds in light of the ruling of the Supreme Court," Valte said.
She said that there are legislative proposals calling for the creation of a trust fund for coconut farmers using proceeds from coco levy assets.
However, she said President Benigno Aquino III "would like to see first the recommendations of the task force."
Aquino ordered the creation of the PTFCL upon his assumption in office to determine how best to utilize the coco levy funds. The PTFCL is composed of the Presidential Management Staff, National Anti-Poverty Commission, Presidential Commission on Good Government, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management, and Philippine Coconut Authority.
CIIF welcomes SC decision
The SC, in a September 4 ruling, affirmed with finality a 2004 Sandiganbayan decision awarding the contested 24% San Miguel stake to the government.
The stake represents around 700 million preferred shares worth over P52 billion at P75 each.
The shares, which were registered under the names of 14 companies in the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF), were sequestered by government after the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.
The government claimed the shares were acquired through funds from the levy collected by the administration of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos from coconut farmers starting in the mid-70s.
CIIF President and CEO Jesus Arranza welcomed the SC decision.
"This ruling now allows the government to finally plan and decide on how to utilize these assets for the benefit of our coconut farmers and the development of the coconut industry."
The government also ran after another block of shares in San Miguel, but this was awarded by the SC to the conglomerate's chairman, Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco Jr.
The SC ruled with finality in April 2011 that another 20% sequestered stake in San Miguel, representing over 490 million shares, rightfully belonged to Cojuangco.
Cojuangco this year exited the conglomerate, selling the bulk of his stake to his righ-hand man and San Miguel's President, Ramon Ang.
Share sale deal
The government's preferred shares in San Miguel, meanwhile, will be refinanced by the recent P80-billion preferred share offering of the company, touted as the biggest share deal in Philippine corporate history.
The government converted the shares into preferred from common in 2010, taking away its voting rights.
Preferred shares pay higher and consistent dividends, but carry no voting rights. Common shares, on the other hand, do not promise consistent yields but entitle holders to vote in company matters such as election of the board of directors and approval of business plans. - Rappler.com