By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Negros and Bukidnon, two of the country’s sugar producing provinces, have separately passed resolutions condemning the plan of the government to liberalize sugar importation in the country.
Some 18 more provinces are expected to make the same move, Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Board Member Emilio Yulo said.
The country’s sugar farming and mill operations are said to generate R90 billion annually from the sale of raw sugar, refined sugar, molasses and ethanol. The industry also provides employment to 700,000 sugar workers across 20 sugar producing provinces in the country.
In a statement, Raymond Montinola of the Confederation of Sugar Producers said Negros alone has about 200,000 workers directly involved in the industry and that open importation will be disastrous to the local economy.
Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon was among the first to issue condemnation on the move, which was announced by Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno two weeks ago.
To be specific, Negros Occidental Provincial Board and the Bacolod City Council particularly passed a resolution against the government’s plan to import more sugar.
The resolution stressed that this move can lead to “the demise of the sugar industry which is the lifeblood of Negros” and that open importation will result to “economic dislocation and would in time foment widespread social unrest, putting to naught all social economic initiatives of the province”.
Marañon also urged Negrenses to stand together and told Diokno to “get out of the confines of your air-conditioned offices and see the state of our agriculture sector”.
Province of Bukidnon, led by Provincial Board Member Nemesto Beltran, also signed its own resolution condemning the plan.
“[The province] is fervently urging and recommending the to the national government through the Department of Agriculture not to proceed with the reported plan to liberalize and unregulate the importation of sugar into the Philippines,” Beltran said.