Senate urges gov't not to pursue sugar liberalization
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate adopted on Monday, November 11 the resolution urging the the executive branch not to pursue the planned sugar liberalization to safeguard the welfare of sugar farmers and industry workers in the country.
Signed by 22 senators, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri sponsored Senate Resolution 213, saying the liberalizing imports would be the “nail that would seal the coffin of the sugar industry.”
The resolution was swiftly adopted, as no senators interpellated nor proposed amendments to the measure.
"The Senate is against sugar liberalization," Sen Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said, as the Senate adopted the resolution urging the executive branch not to pursue deregulation of sugar import. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/CldCpQTa48— Aika Rey (@reyaika) November 11, 2019
After successfully lifting import restrictions on rice, the government eyed the same for sugar, saying it would “put pressure” on the domestic economy to compete with the world. (READ: Next in line: Sugar import liberalization)
But the senators are not convinced the plan would do well for the sugar industry too.
“We do not want another industry to fall and falter because of the liberalizing imports of these products," Zubiri said.
“The face of sugar farmers are no longer the hacienderos or the mestizos we see in the movies. Ang mukha ng sugar farmers ay (The face of farmers are now the) agrarian reform beneficiaries,” Zubiri added.
The majority leader said some 5 million people in 20 provinces will be directly and indirectly affected by the liberalization.
Instead of deregulating imports, he called on the government to strengthen the implementation of the Republic Act No. 10659, or the Sugarcane Industry Development Act (SIDA).
“Let us fully implement SIDA and support the industry before we talk about liberalizing imports, and then be competitive. But right now is not the time to liberalize importations,” Zubiri said.
The Sugar Regulatory Administration and the country’s sugar producers had earlier rejected the proposal, fearing collapse of the industry.
In October 2018, the President abolished the Philippine Sugar Corporation (Philsucor), for not effectively fulfilling its role of boosting the country's sugar industry.
Philsucor was also among the GOCCs that shortchanged the government through non-declaration, failure to record, failure to remit, or under-remittance of dividends from 2004 to 2014. – Rappler.com