3 planters federations establish sugar coalition

Danilo A. Abelita of PANAYFED, Aurelio Gerardo J. Valderrama Jr. of CONFED and Enrique D. Rojas of NFSP (l-r, seated) sign the agreement for the establishment of a Sugar Producers Coalition, which was witnessed by federation officers Emil Reyes, Francis dela Rama, Manuel Puey, Bernard Trebol, Dr. Miller Serondo, Paolo Severino, Jaime G. Golez and Dr. Mel Serondo (l-r, standing).*

After collaborating on key issues affecting the sugar industry, three planters federations representing the majority of the national sugar production formalized their coalition with the signing of a memorandum of agreement in Bacolod City Tuesday, January 17.

Enrique D. Rojas of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP), Aurelio Gerardo J. Valderrama Jr. of the Confederation of Sugar Producers’ Associations (CONFED) and Danilo A. Abelita of the Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers (PANAYFED) established a Sugar Producers Coalition, to be called the Sugar Council.

The Sugar Council will serve as a venue where sugar producers, with the participation of other concerned stakeholders, may discuss issues and craft recommendations for submission to policy-makers and legislators that advances, promotes and secures the continued viability of the sugar industry, a statement from the coalition said.

The group recognizes that a united sugar industry is crucial in protecting, promoting and advancing the interest and welfare of sugar producers through regular and consistent engagement with the government, specifically Congress and the Sugar Regulatory Administration, it said.

When Sugar Order No. 4 for the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar was issued last year, the three federations unanimously supported the move. Though some sectors assailed the signatories of Sugar Order No. 4, the three federations stood squarely behind Valderrama who was the planters representative to the SRA Board, the statement said.

The propriety of the issuance of Sugar Order No. 4 was later upheld by the Office of the President, exonerating Valderrama and the other signatories, it said.

Present calls for importation by industrial users and other sectors manifest the necessity for the volume of importation stipulated in Sugar Order No. 4, it added.

The three federations also opposed proposals to amend Executive Order No. 18 of the Sugar Regulatory Administration, and they defended SRA from calls for its abolition. They also opposed the proposed sugar importation at the peak of the milling season, because it would depress sugar prices to the disadvantage of sugar farmers, the statement said.

Together with the Philippine Sugar Millers Association, which represents the majority of sugar millers in the country, they submitted last week a joint proposal to amend the Sugarcane Industry Development Act and increase its annual allocation from P2 billion to P5 billion to improve farm productivity and boost mill efficiency, it added.

The council has also called on SRA to show the production and demand figures, as well as the volume and schedule of arrival of the proposed importation, which can justify the request by soft drink manufacturers to import sugar, the statement said.

To formalize their coalition, the three federations formed the Sugar Council to strengthen and amplify their collective voices on issues affecting the industry, it said.

Other producers federations are also welcome to join the group, the statement said.

A sugar producers association, which wishes to express its opinions or recommendations in the discussions of the Sugar Council, can do so through its federation, it said.

Unaffiliated sugar producer associations should join any of the convenors or regular members of the Sugar Council, so that it can express its opinions and recommendations, through its federation, before the Sugar Council, the statement added.*

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