NEGROS Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. said on Wednesday, January 30, that President Rodrigo Duterte is the last resort of the sugar industry to stop the move to deregulate or liberalize the sugar industry.
“I believe that if the President will be enlightened about this the move will not push through,” Marañon said.
He said that the plan is only by Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and that Diokno is not the president.
“He does not know about the sugar industry. What he knows is only the sugar that he puts in his coffee. Of course, there are more consumers than farmers as what he said but will he kill the farmers? A consumer is only consuming a little of sugar a day. Does it affect economically the consumers? But if the sugar industry will be killed how many thousands of workers will lose their jobs and how many families will suffer? The sugar industry is such a huge industry wherein other countries it is being subsidized by the government. It is only here in the Philippines that the producers are not being subsidized. In Thailand, the sugar industry is highly subsidized by the government,” he pointed out.
The governor said that actually, those who made money from sugar are the traders.
“They have sure profit. The farmers are the once suffering from some factors affecting the industry like calamities and fire. The best is single selling agency like in Australia because you can control the price but it's difficult to implement here in the country because of graft and corruption,” he said.
Marañon said that he believes several industry leaders are approaching the President.
“I think he will listen because he is a very reasonable man. The industry leaders should show the President the real facts of the industry that it is actually helping the economy,” he said.
“It is Diokno's personal comment and he won't be there forever,” he added.
Meanwhile, Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino said that
the challenges in the sugar industry, especially the problem on the liberalization plan, will also be tackled on Thursday, January 31, during the Provincial Agriculture Summit at Nature's Village Hotel in Talisay City.
The summit, he said, is to set agricultural development direction of Negros Occidental and different commodities will be presented by different sectors like crops, fisheries, livestock and non-forest products.
Farmers, academe, government agencies, students are expected to participate in the today's summit.
Mild El Niño
Meanwhile, Masculino said that based on the forecast, the country is now experiencing weak El Niño which means that although the manifestations are there because of sea surface temperature but the effects are less because of the tropical depressions that entered the country.
“The effects are only in patches,” he added.
Masculino further said they will take up during the summit the Rice Tariffication bill which is about to be signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“This is a big challenge to our rice farmers considering that the price of rice in the world market is low. We have fears that imported rice will flood and our farmers cannot compete because of high production cost in the country compared to other rice-producing countries like Vietnam and Thailand,” he said.
But Masculino assured that in Western Visayas, there is rice sufficiency.