“Due to the violation of the constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases, the Ombudsman is hereby ordered to DISMISS the Complaint for violation of Republic Act No. 3019 docketed as OMB-0-90-2808 against respondents Jose C. Concepcion, Rolando Dela Cuesta, Juan Ponce Enrile, Narciso M. Pineda, and Danilo S. Ursua,” the Supreme Court decision on the coco-levy graft case read.

The Philippine coconut industry has been integral to Philippine agriculture, especially in its contribution to agricultural exports.

In 1972, coconut farmers were taxed during the Martial Law to supposedly develop the coconut industry. However, the said funds only diverted to former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s cronies including Danding Cojuangco, Juan Ponce Enrile, and many others.

The coco levy funds paid by coconut farmers amounted to Php2.14 million, but only 32% of receipts were registered. From a tax of P0.55 per kilo of copra, it became P100 a long time ago. The farmer is still deprived of the coco levy fund.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) denounced the decision.

“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,” KMP Chairperson Rafael Mariano said.

Accordingly, the 33-year-old case was dismissed on the grounds of Enrile’s constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases.

“With such negligence, the case’s dismissal was a foregone conclusion. The Ombudsman’s graft investigators seemingly moved at a snail’s pace without even bothering to think how their excruciating slowness would be detrimental to the welfare of the millions of coconut farmers who could have benefited from the coco levy funds, had this been restored to them, the rightful owners,” Judy Taguiwalo, Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA) convenor said.

CARMMA viewed the negligence of government graft investigators as among the main reasons behind the dismissal of a multi-million-peso graft case. As a matter of fact, the Ombudsman has long recommended the dismissal as far back as 1998.

“Unfortunately, recovering ill-gotten wealth from the Marcoses and their dummies and cronies has always been an uphill battle, and more so now that there is another Marcos in Malacañang,” Taguiwalo said.

“Despite this, there must be no let-up in the Filipino people’s perseverance to seek justice and accountability for the grandiose thievery and other grave violations of the people’s rights that were perpetrated during the martial law years,” Taguiwalo added. 


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