Sugar mill's closure ‘might breed insurgency'-A A +A
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
RESIDENTS in southern Negros fear the possible resurgence of insurgency in their area due to the continued non-operation of a sugar mill on which thousands depend on for their livelihood.
Lawyer Rolando Parpa, chairman of the Dacongcogon People's/Cooperative Organization, said in a press conference Tuesday that the military does not need to talk to the New People's Army to end the conflict, but rather help in convincing the National Government to give livelihood to the people.
Parpa said most of the 10,000 farmer members of their organization remain in agony due to the continuous non-operation of the Dacongcogon sugar mill, “which also has adverse multiplier effect on at least another hundred thousand residents of southern Negros hinterlands comprising the mill district.”
Parpa said the farmers appealed for support from government to restore operation of the mill since crop year 2009-2010, but along with Crop Year 2010-2011 and CY 2011-1012, they all passed by without any assistance extended.
He said Crop Year 2012-2013 has started and the farmers again have to bring their canes to distant mills at tremendous cost, leaving them barely enough proceeds for their needs.
In spite of presidential directives, the Agriculture department/Philsucor denied the request for assistance so the denial was appealed back to the President, he lamented.
Parpa also said that in order to fast-track action, about 8,000 Dacongcogon farmers and residents appealed, with their signatures attached to a letter to Malacañang requesting for representatives of Dacongcogon to meet with President Benigno Aquino III or his representative regarding their problem, but it was not entertained.
He said to ensure that the problem will be made known to the President, he was invited to the cooperative annual general assembly last August 31 but was deferred to await confirmation of the invitation, finally being informed by Malacañang that the President cannot be available.
He said the long economic dislocation and poverty problem due to mill closure “deteriorated to lawlessness, factory equipment/parts were cannibalized and mill properties destroyed and materials were taken away.”
Parpa also said that consequent resurgence of rebel activity creates fear of return to pre "operation thunderbolt" social disorder.
"Our advocacy experience to get government help to ease the suffering and continue the empowerment of ordinary hinterland folks is revealing of government bureaucratic indifference," Parpa said in a press statement.
He said they are calling on President Aquino to execute the implementation of Presidential Decree 1890, which creates the Philippine Sugar Corporation, as this will relieve the suffering in Dacongcogon, and save it as a progressive hinterland community from becoming a breeding ground of social disorder.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 24, 2012.