SENATOR Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito vowed Thursday to push for the passage of the proposed Sugarcane Bill in the Senate.
"I am really pushing for the passage of this bill to keep my promise to be the voice of Negros in the Senate. I know this is the main concern of our fellow Negrenses," Ejercito said in a press conference in Bacolod City Thursday.
Ejercito filed Senate Bill 1229 or the Sugarcane Industry Development Act of 2014, which is the counterpart bill of Representative Alfredo Benitez's proposed legislation in the House of Representatives.
Ejercito said, it would be easier for him to convince his 23 colleagues in the Senate for the passage of the bill.
"That's why I will meet with Congressman Benitez. He should ask Macalañang to certify the Sugarcane Bill urgent or to include it as among its priority bills so that it could be passed before 2015," Ejercito said.
He added that he was worried about the future of the sugar industry, because he felt that the current administration is not prepared when the Asean Free Trade Agreement (Afta) is implemented less than a year from now.
”I am really worried that the preparation is not enough. We are always reactive but we have to be proactive that before the problem comes like the Afta, there must be preparations already," he said.
The Sugarcane Bill would save the sugar industry of Negros, Ejercito said.
He said that he has inquired with Agriculture Secretary Proseso Alcala about the country’s preparations for Afta.
The senator added: “We will push for the Sugarcane Act because we need to modernize our sugar mills. When imported sugar comes in, our sugar will really be affected. We should have alternatives. We should modernize the sugar industry to make it competitive and find other alternative products from sugarcane like power.”
Ejercito said he will ask Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate agriculture committee, to fast track the passage of the Sugarcane Bill.
Leaders of the sugar industry have mounted calls for the speedy passage of the proposed Sugarcane Act to cushion the impact of the low tariff on imported sugar starting next year. (TDE)