Senate asks admin to drop plan to liberalize the sugar industry
MANILA, Philippines — Liberalization will be “the nail that will seal the coffin of the sugar industry in the country.”
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri stressed this point on Monday in his sponsorship speech of Senate Resolution No. 213, which urges the executive department not to pursue its planned liberalization of the sugar industry.
“The deregulated entry of subsidized sugar into the Philippine market will be disastrous to the sugar industry,” the resolution said.
Specifically, the resolution said the move would adversely affect 84,000 farmers and 720,000 industry workers in over 20 provinces.
Among these provinces are Cagayan, Isabela, Tarlac, Pampanga, Batangas, Cavite, Camarines Sur, Cebu, Leyte, Iloilo, Cadiz, Antique, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, North Cotabato, Davao Del Sur, Bukidnon, and Sultan Kudarat.
“We do not want to happen what had happened to other agricultural industries,” Zubiri said. “Right now rice is having a very difficult time. And because of the African swine flu… it is wreaking havoc in the swine industry.”
“We do not want another industry to fall and falter because of importation or liberal importation of these products,” he added.
Instead, the resolution proposed the strengthening of the Sugar Industry Development Act (SIDA), which was enacted in 2015.
“The SIDA of 2015 is barely four years into effect, and much [sic] of the programs and projects it envisions to implement for the development of the sugar industry are not yet fully realized, thus any plan of liberalizing the sugar industry becomes irrelevant and very untimely,” the resolution noted.
“The proposed liberalization of the sugar industry will contradict the President’s thrust towards food security and will severely affect the entire agriculture sector,” it added.
The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) earlier included sugar liberalization among the legislative priorities it sought to pitch to the 18th Congress.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, who is Neda director-general, said the move was aimed at cutting costs and bringing down domestic retail prices.
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