Coco farmers elated over Church’s backing

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MANILA, Nov. 26, 2014—Kilos Magniniyog 71 (KM71) has expressed joy that the Catholic Church has joined them in the fight for the rights of the country’s coconut farmers.

In a recent interview over Church-run RadyoVeritas, KM spokesperson Eduardo Moran shared it is no small thing that they were able to rally the Church behind their cause with no less than Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), supporting their cause.

For more than two months, 71 farmers walked around 1,772 kms from Davao City to Manila to call on President Benigno Aquino III and Congress to create the 71-billion Coco Levy Trust Fund. (Photo: CBCPNews)

“We are glad that the Catholic Church supports the aim of Kilos Magniniyog. Coconut farming is such a big industry, and it’s good that the Church shares our ardent wish that the P71-billion Coconut Levy Fund which we’ve been clamoring for four decades would finally benefit coconut farmers,” he said.

According to Moran, who is also president of “Pambansang Kaisahan ng mga Magbubukid sa Pilipinas”, number 71 in KM71 stands for the P71-billion Coconut Levy Fund, as well as the 71 coconut who for over two months, walked around 1,772 kms from Davao City to Manila to call on President Benigno Aquino III and Congress to create the trust fund.

In an earlier CBCP News post, Villegas urged the government to “take steps that would look into the plight of the country’s coconut farmers”. (http://www.cbcpnews.com/cbcpnews/?p=46283)

“I join the protest against this marginalization of our coconut farmers and call on the government to demonstrate its resolve at social justice in their favor,” the prelate stated.

The CBCP expresses hopes that the government will not allow farmers to be continuously exploited by the prevailing social injustice.

“My fear, as President of CBCP, is that our coconut farmers are, by a cruel turn of circumstances, becoming part of the weaker if not weakest members of society — victims of those who, in an unprincipled and un-Christian manner, exploit the defenselessness of the economically harassed,” he said.

Villegas made the statement on Monday, Nov. 24, following a dialogue with the coconut farmers at the CBCP Chapel in Intramuros, Manila. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCPNews)

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