Senate adopts resolution discouraging sugar importation deregulation

Posted by watchmen
November 12, 2019

The Philippines Senate yesterday adopted a near-unanimous resolution discouraging the executive department from sugar liberalization, or the deregulation of sugar importation. The only lawmakers not signing on to the policy were Senator Lito Lapid and embattled Senator Leila de Lima.
The resolution calls on the government to “safeguard the welfare of sugar farmers and industry workers.”
“The deregulated entry of subsidized sugar into the Philippine market will be disastrous to our sugar industry,” the document read. “Liberalization or deregulation of the sugar industry will not affect the competitiveness of sugar-containing food products for export.”
The resolution also pointed out, the domestic sugar industry stretches across 20 provinces, including Iloilo, Capiz, Antique, Negros Occidental, and Negros Oriental.
According to the resolution, many Sugar Industry Development Act (SIDA) programs have yet to be implemented, which they claim makes the proposal to deregulate importation “irrelevant” and “very untimely.”
The policy also calls for an investigation into the liberalization proposal.
Last month, the National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines, the largest organized labor federation in the sugar industry, endorsed the call for Sugar Regulatory Administration head Hermenegildo Serafica’s resignation citing failures to stand up for the sugar industry.
“Serafica seems to act as a parrot for the government’s economic managers, who are considered pro-sugar import liberalization,” the union official stated. “Serafica’s acts of omission against sugar import liberalization are a clear act inimical to the sugar industry and its workers.”
“Serafica failed to effectively implement SIDA, which is the law mandated to improve the competitiveness of sugar producers and extend support services to marginal sugar farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries,” he added. “His inefficiency in the implementation of the program, and [the] underspending of program funds, caused serious [and] damaging effects to the supposed beneficiaries of the program.”
Earlier, in a letter, Roberto Cuenca, president of the Asociación de Agricultores de la Carlota y Pontevedra Inc. of Negros Occidental, said Serafica should allow somebody else to speak and stand up for the industry if he is not up to the task to do so.
“One who is brave enough to point out what is wrong with the policy of the economic managers and one who is willing to provide the government with sustainable solutions not only for the sugar industry, but also for the whole agriculture sector,” Cuenca said. “If he cannot fulfill this responsibility then we strongly believe that he should be conscientious enough to step down and resign as SRA administrator.”/WDJ

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