By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines (NACUSIP) General-Secretary Hernani Braza said the proposed elimination of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) would have dire consequences on the industry, especially in Negros Occidental.
“They are already threatened by the onset of artificial sweeteners on the market, it would bring the industry to a precarious state,” he said during an interview with ABS-CBN-Bacolod’s The Morning Show, yesterday.
He said sugar workers would be impacted since the SRA is the agency that regulates the supply of sugar.
Braza speculates the industry itself could go bankrupt.
He noted, the government is supposed to protect local industry.
“Under the constitution, they have to protect local industry from unfair competition,” Braza explained.
The union leader also appealed to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, asking for due process before any final decision is made.
Meanwhile, Negros Occidental third district Rep. Alfredo Benitez yesterday confirmed he met with Piñol during recent budget hearings in Manila.
According to Benitez, Piñol has lobbied for the retention of SRA, explaining it is the gatekeeper of the sugar industry and its consumers.
Benitez pointed out, the president was reportedly “irked” by certain individuals at SRA because of alleged corruption, which led him to push for the abolition of the institution.
“Most likely, SRA won’t be abolished,” the congressman assured. “The president would only like to spare the institution from alleged corruption, especially the alleged consultants having huge allowances.”
Benitez also revealed Sugar Board member Hermenegildo Serafica will most likely be the next SRA Administrator, while former Negros Occidental Board Member Emilio Dino Yulo III will land a spot on the SRA board.
President Rodrigo Duterte called for the abolition of the SRA earlier this month.
In response, former Negros Occidental Governor Rafael Coscolluela said the move would create uncertainty to the sugar industry; while General Alliance of Workers Association (GAWA) Secretary-General Wennie Sancho claimed there is no corruption in the agency, saying SRA consultants are approved by the SRA board./WDJ