On the Supreme Court’s dismissal of graft charges vs. chief presidential legal counsel JPE

The Supreme Court ruling that dismissed the P840.7-million graft case against chief presidential legal counsel Juan Ponce Enrile and several others over the siphoning of the coco levy fund is a “great disservice” and “direct affront” to small coconut farmers and their heirs who are the real owners and beneficiaries of the multi-billion coco levy fund, according to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

In its argument for the dismissal of the 33-year-old case, the SC said there was a clear violation of the respondents’ constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases. The said decision was promulgated on Jan. 16 and published yesterday, Feb. 8, mere days before Enrile’s 99th birthday on Feb. 14.

Other respondents in the graft case are Jose C. Concepcion, Rolando Dela Cuesta, Narciso M. Pineda, and Danilo S. Ursua. The same SC ruling also ordered the dismissal of the graft case against Eduardo Cojuangco Jr., Jose Eleazar Jr., Maria Clara Lobregat, and Augusto Orosa “due to their supervening deaths.”

“Sana naisip din ng Korte Suprema ang kapakanan at kinabukasan ng mga magniniyog at ng kanilang mga tagapagmana na lampas limang dekada nang naghihintay na maibalik sa kanila at mapakinabangan man lang nila ang pondo ng coco levy. Naghihintay pa rin ang mga magniniyog na maibalik sa kanila ang coco levy. Who will afford them the same consideration that the Supreme court granted Enrile et. al. All administrations post-Marcos Sr. failed to return the coco levy fund to its rightful owners — the coconut farmers and their heirs. Indeed, “memories fade, documents and other exhibits can be lost” but the only truth that will remain for many years to come is the fact that Ferdinand Marcos Sr., Danding Cojuangco Jr. and JPE extorted the coco levy from small coconut farmers and plundered it for their own personal interests,” according KMP chairperson emeritus Rafael Mariano.

From 1971 to 1982, the Marcos Sr. regime arbitrarily collected money from small coconut farmers by imposing levies, taxes, charges, and other fees for selling copra. The former Duterte administration transformed the coco levy, now estimated to be P75-billion, into a privatized investment fund that poor coconut farmers cannot control, manage, nor take benefit from.

KMP further said that the coco levy fund scam will forever be regarded as the “scam of the century” perpetrated by the Marcoses and their cronies, Enrile included. ###

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