MORE than a thousand residents signed a petition opposing sugar liberalization during the signature drive conducted by the National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines (Nacusip) and the ARBs Sugar Farmers Federation – Kilusang Pagbabago at the Murcia Public Market Sunday, March 3.
Dubbed as the “One Million Signatures Campaign Against Sugar Liberalization,” the petition is addressed to President Rodrigo Duterte expressing strong opposition to the proposed liberalization of the sugar industry. The campaign was launched by Nacusip and its allied organizations.
The ARBs Sugar Farmers Federation – Kilusang Pagbabago, which is working on the formation of a broad coalition of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs), marginal farmers, industry workers and cause-oriented groups to oppose sugar liberalization, stepped up to support Nacusip in the signature drive. Murcia is the first sortie of the two allied groups.
Karen Maylas and Riza Mae Masabio, daughters of Murcia ARBs, manned the signature drive center, supported by Nacusip officers Bonifacio Maylas and Jessie Cervantes, and ARBs federation chairman Aaron Sorbito and secretary-general Ranie Lava.
“We are humbled by the warm response from Murcia residents. Not just marginal sugarcane farmers and ARBs but people from all walks of life... housewives, tricycle drivers, market vendors... they came willingly to sign the petition without need of any prodding nor further explanation,” said Sorbito.
“Our streamer says it all: Pamatukan ang pagpatay sa industriya sg kalamay! Ipahayag ang aton pagpamatok paagi sa pagpirma sg aton petisyon. (Oppose the move that will kill the sugar industry! Express our opposition by signing our petition),” he added.
Sorbito said the public understands the gravity of this threat to their livelihood and their family’s economic welfare. He added that the warm response indicates that the people are ready and willing to protect the industry which they have already claimed as their own and in which they have a stake.
“Those who affixed their signatures asked us to bring the signature campaign to their barangays, so that more people can sign the petition. However, our limited resources prevent us from conducting a more thorough signature drive at the barangay level,” he said.
Sorbito added that, since their group lacks the manpower and resources to go to all the barangays for the signature drive, some people asked for copies of the petition and volunteered to conduct the campaign on their own at their respective barangays.
“We are gaining momentum in the signature drive and in our coalition building. We call on other industry sectors to support our move, because the victory of the ARBs and the industry workers is the victory of the entire sugar industry,” Sorbito emphasized. (PR)