Danding Cojuangco asks court to junk coco levy cases

Danding Cojuangco asks court to junk coco levy cases
Defendants in 4 coconut levy cases cite delay as basis for their plea, saying these have been pending for 28 years already

MANILA, Philippines – The camp of businessman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr has filed for the dismissal of 4 coconut levy cases pending before the Sandiganbayan due to delay in court proceedings.

In 4 pleadings filed by his camp on May 29, Cojuangco asked to junk the following pending cases before the anti-graft court’s Second Division:

  • Civil Case 0033-B, on the “creation of companies out of coconut levy funds”
  • Civil Case 0033-C, on the “creation and operation of Bugsuk Project and award of P998 million damages to Agricultural Investors Inc”
  • Civil Case 0033-D, on the “disadvantageous purchases and settlement of the accounts of the oil mills out of coco-levy funds”
  • Civil Case 0033-H, on the “behest loans and contracts”

These cases are subdivisions of the original Civil Case 0033 which was filed in 1987, or 28 years ago. This case was split into 8 separate lawsuits in 1995 – 20 years ago – on the recommendation of the Sandiganbayan due to the complexity of transactions involved.

Cojuangco’s lawyers, Estelito Mendoza and Francis Tuliao, noted that none of these cases have seen a day of trial since they were filed.

“The simple truth is instant case has been pending for almost 28 years… without having commenced trial. The fact alone that this case… has not yet been concluded until today removes any doubt as to the failure of its speedy disposition,” the defense said.

Cojuangco’s camp added that the government has repeatedly objected its petition for the start of the trial. “The Republic has surprisingly refused to proceed to trial despite having declared in all of the complaints …that it had in its possession the evidence to prove the allegations,” they said.

They also raised the government’s failure to specify what supposed ill-gotten wealth it is hoping to recover in each of the four cases.

In their opposition, government lawyers explained that the delay in proceedings was due to the delaying acts of the defendants themselves, including Cojuangco.

Cojuangco, chairman and former major shareholder of San Miguel, has already allowed for the turnover of multibillion-peso coco levy funds to the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF), which supports over 3 million farmers all over the country.

President Benigno Aguino III has signed on March 2015 Executive Order 180, which authorizes the utilization of the funds to benefit coconut farmers. – Rappler.com

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