Sugar producer group threatens to file contempt raps vs SRA head
BACOLOD CITY — The United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED) has threatened to file contempt charges and seek the arrest of Sugar Regulatory Administrator (SRA) Hermenegildo Serafica if he signs the proposed sugar importation program that will allow 350,000 metric tons of raw and refined sugar into the country.
UNIFED President Manuel Lamata on Friday, April 8, said they have received a draft of Sugar Order No. 4 which is “similar and in a bigger volume than the previous order that caused the filing of our case against him (Serafica) and SRA last February.”
“The moment administrator Serafica signs and makes that draft SO 4 official, we will haul him in court again for contempt and seek his arrest for defying the ongoing case filed against him related to the suspended SO 3,” Lamata said.
“I will personally bring sugar for Mr. Serafica’s coffee in his jail cell when that happens,” he added.
In February, the Sagay City and Himamaylan City Regional Trial Courts issued separate preliminary injunctions against the importation of 200,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar under SO 3.
“This proposed SO 4 is a slap on the faces of the two regional trial courts here that issued rulings to halt any importation program pending a final resolution to the cases that has been deemed to cause damage to the sugar industry,” Lamata said.
Lamata said that while they are not against any importation based on factual supply and demand data from the ground, the proposed import program is clearly favoring a particular sector.
Earlier, Senator Imee Marcos, who chairs the Senate Economic Affairs Committee, also called out Agriculture Secretary William Dar to refrain from signing the draft SO 4. Marcos described the agriculture state as “an epic disaster” and warned about approving any “midnight express deal” regarding the sugar importation.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri also issued a statement condemning the proposed SO 4 citing the pending court cases.
“Our courts have already landed on the side of our sugar farmers last February, so it’s disheartening that we are having the same conversation about importation again,” Zubiri said.
“Lest the SRA will be accused of this being a midnight deal bereft of propriety and due process. They should not allow this while our farmers are harvesting their crops,” he added.