Sugar Act faces tight race vs time - Enrile-A A +A
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
SENATE President Juan Ponce Enrile expressed doubts that there is enough time for the passage of the Sugarcane Industry Development Act principally authored by Representative Albee Benitez (3rd district, Negros Occidental).
In a dinner meeting on Tuesday at the Chef Jessie Restaurant, Rockwell, Makati, Enrile said the Senate might not have enough time to calendar and deliberate on the Sugar Act bill because of the coming break for the All Souls Day, All Saints Day, Christmas, and New Year, adding that the proposed measure might have to wait for the next composition of Congress after the 2013 election.
Among those present at the meeting were Sugar Regulatory Administrator Ma. Regina Martin; National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP) president Enrique Rojas; United Sugar Federation of the Philippines (Unifed) president Manolet Lamata; Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers Inc. (Panayfed) president Danilo Abelita; Confederation of Sugar Producers Association (Confed) president Lito Coscolluela; representatives of sugar millers namely Francisco Varua, Pedro Roxas, and Jose Mari Chan; and NFSP executive committee members Jaime Golez, Romeo Garcia, Miller Serondo, and Leonides Fausto.
“Unless President Aquino certifies the bill as urgent,” Enrile said.
Gov’t support needed for agriculture
In view of the competition from cheaper subsidized imported products faced by local agriculture producers due to trade liberalization, Enrile reiterated his call for more intensive government support for agriculture.
He said the government should aggressively promote a program geared towards food sovereignty for all Filipinos.
He also emphasized that instead of spending billions of dollars in food imports every year, we should come up with a program to maximize the use of all productive agricultural lands, increase government spending on agricultural support and infrastructure and boost the productivity and reduce the production cost of our farmers.
The Sugar Act aims to provide a roadmap for the development of all the potentials of the sugarcane industry, particularly the maximization of its product diversification thrusts into ethanol, power cogeneration, potable alcohol and platform chemicals for the production of plastics, pharmaceuticals and other products, making the industry sustainable and globally competitive for liberalization by 2015. (Butch Bacaoco)
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 10, 2012.