SC stops 2 Aquino EOs on managing coco levy funds
THE Supreme Court has stopped Malacañang from implementing the two executive orders on the privatization and reconveyance of the P74.3-billion coco levy fund that the high court had recently declared to be public funds.
“The Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order effective immediately and until further orders from the Court against the implementation of Executive Order Numbers 179 and 180,” high court Information Chief Theodore Te said at a press conference Tuesday.
EO 179 requires the (1) inventory and privatization and (2) reconveyance and in favor of the government of all coconut levy assets, including but not limited to the shares of stock in the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF) Companies and CIIF Holding Companies as well as the 5,500,000 SMC shares registered in the name of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).
EO180, on the other hand, ordered the immediate transfer and reconveyance of the coconut levy assets to the government and use it for the Integrated Coconut Industry Roadmap and the Roadmap for Coco Levy.
At the same time, the high court also ordered respondent PCGG to comment on the petition within 10 days.
In a 33-page petition filed on May 20, the Confederation of Coconut Farmers Organizations of the Philippines (CCFOP) led by Charles Avila, accused Aquino of committing grave abuse of authority when he issued EOs 179 and 180 without the approval of Congress and the Sandiganbayan.
The petition argued that the two executive orders were unconstitutional and bypassed the power of Congress to legislate on how these funds would be managed.
“[P]etitioner humbly submits that this judgment [by the Supreme Court], without prior legislative imprimatur, cannot be hastily and prematurely ’implemented’ by the President through mere EOs. In passing the assailed EOs, the President acted in excess of his constitutionally mandated powers,” Avila said.
“These twin executive orders can only lead to a much worse coco-economy of exclusion and would cause new plunder of the coco levy funds,” Avila, CCFOP executive director and spokesman, said in a statement.
The Supreme Court ruled that the coco levy funds were public funds in two decisions (Republic v Sandiganbayan First Division and Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. in April 2011, and Cocofed v Republic in January 2012).
Avila said that in issuing the two EOs, President Aquino also violated the mandate of the Philippine Coconut Authority, which Congress created to administer the coco levy funds.
The funds were also subject to a writ of execution of the Sandiganbayan’s first division that originally had jurisdiction over the coco levy controversy.
“The release of the coconut levy assets held by the UCPB and its transfer to the Bureau of Treasurer already partakes of the nature of execution,” he said.
He added that the creation of the special fund is conferred by the Constitution not on the President but exclusively on Congress in the latter’s exercise of its power of the purse. He noted that there were several bills pending in both houses of Congress on the reversion of the coco levy funds to the government. AC
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