Sugar liberalization proposal sets 'shiver on spine' of farmers, workers

THE formal proposal of the Department of Finance (DOF) on the implementation of sugar import liberalization modeled up on the opening of the rice market had set "shivers on the spines" of the sugar farmers and workers, a labor group leader in Negros Occidental said.

Wennie Sancho, secretary general Philippine Sugar Watch (PSW), said the unfolding of this disastrous economic event is being pushed by food processors and industrial users hammering on the issue that domestic sugar prices are double than the world prices.

Sancho said unfortunately, most of them are acting on the interests of the sugar traders who are profiting much from this lucrative business at the expense of the agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) and small farmers.

"The crucial role of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) in doing a balancing act would now come into play particularly on the approval of import permits in the determination of how much can be imported without any adverse effects among the stakeholders of the sugar industry will be a big factor," he added.

Sancho, also the secretary general of the General Alliance of Workers Associations (Gawa), said the SRA should be firm and consistent in the enforcement of its regulatory authority to protect the interest and welfare of the sugar farmers and workers.

The labor leader said "it will be a matter of time before the imminent collapse of the sugar industry will take place gleaned from the pronouncement and dogged determination of our economic managers to implement the sugar import liberalization policy."

"We do not need somebody to paint the picture. The handwriting is on the wall," Sancho said.

The PSW official is calling a clarion call to action, from protest rallies to a dialogue with Agriculture Secretary William Dar and to all congressmen in Negros to help avert this economic holocaust to happen.

"Let us not allow this added form of injustice to take place," Sancho said.

He said "if our economic managers will succeed in implementing this scheme with audacity in utter disregard of our economic future, all of us will be swallowed by a large and formidable leviathan called the sugar import liberalization scheme."


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