Pacete: Do not liberalize the sugar industry

As I See It

THIS has nothing to with the Liberal Party. All sectors in our sugar industry are saying NO to the liberalization of the sugar industry. This is not good for the hacienda workers, sugarcane planters, millers, and other groups with a livelihood that is dependent on the sugar industry.

The economic wizards of President Digong believe that in order to bring down the price of sugar in the market, the government would allow the smooth coming in of sugar from other countries. This was recently said by Budget Secretary Benjamen Diokno. Our officials in Negros towns, cities and in the province are shouting “No!” We can understand that because most of them are “hacenderos.”

The best thing that we can do is to protest and pray. We all know that President Digong’s heart and mind are not in economics. This is the work of his economic coaches. Poor planters, workers, and millers....They are hit below the belt. The gunners of the government should point the barrel to the traders and retailers. Their decision is sure to create collateral damage. I am saying this because my relatives and friends are hacienda workers.

Negros could have prepared for this long time ago when the sugar barons were still enjoying the price of sugar in the domestic and world markets. Few years back, we were proud in shouting, “Sugar and more!” Now, sugar is about to collapse. Where is “and more!” Are we ready to show that “more” in the Land of Sweet Surprises? I know that we are surprised.

When Lolo Pedro was still working for the late German Unson in Hda. Adela, Mr. Unson said, “Pedro, don’t just concentrate on planting sugarcane. Plant other crops in some areas of the hacienda.” Lolo Pedro planted palay, corn, camote, peanuts, watermelons, mongo, and prepared around five hectares for coconuts and varieties of fruit-bearing trees.

I grew up in the middle of the orchard that I thought was paradise. I tasted all the products in the farm managed by Lolo Pedro. A “sacada” grandchild, like me, could not believe we were poor because of the abundance of the environment. German Unson later became the president of the Sugar Producers Cooperative Marketing Association.

When I finished college and became a teacher, Mr. Unson told me, “Ver, I will train you to become a good farmer more than your Lolo Pedro. You have to learn new farming technology. Sugar is good now but nothing lasts forever. He brought me to Quianan in San Joaquin, Iloilo to learn the new technology in raising peanuts. He was planning to buy Sweet Centre in Talisay so that we could export all kinds of bean candies to Japan.

Mr. Unson died before realizing his dream. Lolo Pedro died of old age. He was 94 years old. Among the farm laborers, no farmer would want to continue the vision of Lolo Pedro. We all know that Negros is not just for sugarcane. We have to cultivate “and more.” It could be our only hope if we believe.


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