Negros stakeholders oppose sugar import liberalization
BACOLOD CITY: Sugar planters, farmers, agrarian reform beneficiaries and sugar workers under Tatak Kalamay have reiterated their opposition to a proposed sugar import liberalization.
They also urged President Rodrigo Duterte to listen to their concerns and drop the proposal.
“The sugar industry is under siege again and we condemn in the strongest terms what we preceived as a sell-off of Philippine agriculture in general,” the group, in a news conference on Sunday, said.
It further urge local government units to show support by passing resolutions in their respective areas opposing the sugar import liberalization because of its detrimental effect on the sugar industry.
”Notwithstanding what has been happening to our rice industry, the crisis we have in the livestock and other agricultural sectors, the economic managers have once again set their eyes on our industry with their proposed liberalization of sugar importation,” Tatak Kalamay said.
“We believe that this move is being influenced by industrial users who cannot control their corporate greed,” it added.
Tatak Kalamay expressed their appreciation to Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Cynthia Villar, who both heeded their plea to intervene in the issue.
“We join them in calling out the Department of Agriculture and the the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) for their deafening silence on this matter,” it said.
It challenged economic managers to get out the confines of their air-conditioned offices and leave their economic theories behind.
“Just visit the fields and dialogue with our sugar farmers, particularly the sugar agrarian reform beneficiaries who comprise over 85 percent of our producers, to see the plight they are in and have their faces imprinted on your minds when you decide their fates,” Tatak Kalamay said.
Raymund Montinola, a group convenor, slammed SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica for “wash[ing] his hands and does not seem to know his work.”
Emilio Yulo, sugar farmers’ representative to the sugar board, said the problems of the sugar industry are”economic [ones] that need a political solution.”
Reacting to a suggestion of Presidential Salvador Panelo for them to write a letter, Yulo said “they will consult their members to draft the letter.”
Labor leader Winnie Sancho, convenor of Save the Sugar Industry Movement, said they will launch a signature campaign and mobilize the labor sector for possible mass action if their concerns are not heeded.
Sancho added that they are calling for a dialogue with Coca Cola- Philippines, which the group said is the alleged culprit behind renewed moves to liberalize the sugar industry in the country.
Yulo said about 5 million Filipinos depend on the sugar industry for their livelihood.
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