Sugar imports to ‘sabotage’ local industry, claims Makabayan solon
MANILA, Philippines — Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas has expressed outrage at the government for approving the importation of 440,000 metric tons of refined sugar, arguing that the move would only “sabotage the local sugar industry.”
Brosas’ remark came after the Sugar Regulatory Administration issued on Wednesday a copy of Sugar Order No. 6, which authorizes a fresh round of importation sans the signature of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Brosas said the government should have already been made aware of the “negative effects of over importation of agricultural products” on farmers when Marcos’ predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, signed the rice liberalization law in 2019 that removed restrictions on rice imports.
Despite the outcry of local farmers, Brosas noted that the Marcos administration is seemingly seeking “to sabotage the local sugar industry” by importing a massive volume of sugar even with the opposition from local farmers.
“This anti-farmer and anti-worker move will lead to massive loss of jobs and livelihood amid the economic crisis. Worse, it will not even control the ongoing decline in the country’s sugar production and increasing prices of sugar in the market,” she said in a statement.
The lawmaker then cited the Central Azucarera Don Pedro Inc. (CADPI), the second largest azucarera in Luzon, which was forced to shut down due to operational and financial challenges.
“The most effective solution to this issue is for the government to provide subsidies for the operations of local sugarcane planters. President Marcos Jr. must veer away from his addiction to importation and subsidize fuel and fertilizers which has been rising for many years,” she added.
Brosas had earlier filed a House resolution seeking the conduct of an inquiry into the closure of CADPI and its effects on sugar workers and farmers in Batangas.
Last year, a controversial sugar import order, signed by Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, supposedly on behalf of Marcos, placed him and several ex-officials of the SRA in a tough spot.
A probe conducted by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee yielded recommendations for charges to be filed against the implicated officials before the Office of the Ombudsman.
The Office of the President, however, dismissed the case lodged against them. Sebastian was even granted the chance to return to the DA to lead its rice industry and development initiatives. — with reports from Mae Anne F. Bilolo, INQUIRER.net intern