TAGUM CITY— A lapdog and a puppet.

This was how the camp of presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte described Senator Grace Poe after she defended business tycoon and Marcos crony Eduardo “Danding ” Cojuangco Jr over the controversial issue on coco levy fund.

In a statement on March 10, lawyer Paola Alvarez, spokesperson of PDP-Laban, said Poe’s statement shows only that she is “deeply indebted and wants to pay back the businessman accused of amassing wealth by forcing coconut farmers to pay tax 40 years ago.”

“The statement could only be coming from one who is not only a lapdog but, at most, a puppet, someone who clearly is only in the running for the highest position because of being beholden to her benefactor,” said Alvarez.

Cojuangco, the uncle of President Benigno Aquino III, controlled the coconut industry during the Marcos time and recovered the supposed sequestered assets in the post-Marcos era.

Details of Danding Cojuangco’s rise “from the less wealthy, more obscure branch of the landowning Cojuangcos of Tarlac to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful businessmen in present-day Philippines,” were included in an unauthorized biography titled “Boss Danding” by Earl G. Parreño published in 2003.

Tagged as the “Coconut King”, Danding controlled coco levy funds and used it to acquire United Coconut Planters Bank, San Miguel Corporation and other businesses.

It can be recalled that the High Tribunal in January 2012 ruled that the coco levy funds were deemed to be public funds.

The Supreme Court’s ruling stemmed from two separate decisions: Republic vs Sandiganbayan First Division and Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. in April 2011, and Cocofed vs Republic in January 2012, respectively.

Last year the Aquino administration issued Executive Orders (EO) 179 and 180 that aim to privatize shares in UCPB, San Miguel, and the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF) Oil Mill Group.

For Alvarez, Poe’s act of exculpating Cojuangco was “immoral.”

“Absolving Danding, who is your backer, is protecting his interests. It also means that the injustice committed against Filipino coconut farmers continues. It means you allow that.”

Earlier this month, the Nationalist People’s Coalition or NPC has chosen the tandem of Senator Grace Poe and Senator Chiz Escudero, her vice presidential running mate, as the candidates of NPC.

NPC is a political party which was founded by then presidential candidate Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. in 1992.

Both Poe and Escudero admitted that they are using the aerial assets owned by San Miguel Corporation, the Southeast Asia’s largest publicly listed food, beverage and packaging company owned by the Cojuangcos. (davaotoday.com)

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