Duterte told: Don’t kill PH sugar industry
BACOLOD CITY — Sugar industry stakeholders have called on President Rodrigo Duterte and his economic managers to junk plans to import sugar to stem inflation, saying it would cause the collapse of the sugar industry.
Representatives of sugar planters, labor and agrarian reform beneficiaries said at a news conference on Tuesday that retail prices of sugar had already dropped so there would be no reason to resort to importation to bring costs down.
Any importation, they said, would drive mill gate prices below actual costs.
Jose Maria Montinola, chair of the Vicmico Planters Multipurpose Cooperative, asked the President to take a second look at the proposal of his economic managers, pointing out that sugar had never been identified as one of the causes of inflation.
If the government pushed through with the plan to import sugar, he warned that such a move would kill local agriculture.
If the government allowed importation at the start of the milling season, prices will collapse at the expense of farmers at a time when the industry was just beginning to recover, he said.
Wennie Sancho, secretary general of the General Alliance of Workers Association, said labor groups in Negros Occidental were opposing importation of sugar and appealing to the government not to push for it.
“Sugar importation now will stunt the recovery of the sugar industry and the workers will be affected,” he said.
“If they allow importation of sugar, how can they guarantee that there will be no smuggling?” Sancho added.
Sugar traders were manipulating prices, he added.
Jun de la Cruz, chair of the National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines–Trade Union Congress of the Philippines in Negros, said his group also opposed the proposed importation of sugar.
He said the government should have first dialogued with stakeholders.
Enrique Tayo, chair of Negros Occidental Federation of Farmers Associations, said importation would hurt agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) the most.
He said there were about 100,000 ARBs in Negros with a half to a hectare of sugarcane each.
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