Hontiveros holds consultations to protect, boost sugar industry

Sen. Risa Hontiveros (right) reaffirms her support for the sugar industry at a meeting in Bacolod City Tuesday, July 18, attended by CONFED president Aurelio Gerardo G. Valderrama Jr. and NFSP president Enrique D. Rojas.*

Senator Risa Hontiveros said on Tuesday, July 18, that there is a need for better implementation and strengthening of existing laws to protect the country’s sugar industry.

Hontiveros, who was in Negros Occidental for consultations with sugar industry stakeholders, cited possible amendments to laws such as the Sugar Industry Development Act and the Price Act to improve and strengthen them.

She was in Negros to gather inputs to aid the sugar industry in its modernization and development, said Hontiveros, who also met with Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson.

Hontiveros said she is also assessing the stakeholders’ reactions Sugar Orders 6 and 7 that have allowed the importation of sugar.

The senator had sought a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation into the controversy surrounding SO 6 with the entry of imported sugar days before its issuance, which she had called state sponsored smuggling.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros with Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson.*

She said the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on SO6 has adjourned without prejudice to calling more hearings.

Hontiveros said that she will ask Senator Francis Tolentino, Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman, for at least two more hearings on the alleged sugar smuggling “to complete the story of Sugar Order No. 6”.

“We can’t accept the statement of Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin that you don’t need a sugar order anymore to import sugar otherwise it will be open season for importation of agricultural products,” she said.

The issue of “profiteering” needs to be tackled “so that we can make sure that all stakeholders will benefit from Sugar Order No.7 or if it started out on the wrong foot the harm can be reduced,” Hontiveros added.

The aim of the investigation in aid of legislation is to come up with findings and recommendations in support of the sugar industry, she said.

Hontiveros also stressed the need to review how the revenues of the Sugar Regulatory Administration were spent.

The senator said her office will study all the suggestions and recommendations made by the stakeholders.


Hontiveros held a meeting with the Sugar Council composed of officers and members of the Confederation of Sugar Producers’ Associations Inc. (CONFED) led by Aurelio Gerardo J. Valderrama Jr., the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP) led by Enrique D. Rojas and the Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers (PANAYFED) led by Danilo A. Abelita.

In the meeting, she assured her intent to persuade her colleagues in the Senate to continue with the investigation on Sugar Order No. 6, considering that many questions remain unanswered and many issues need to be clarified which can enable the Senate to more constructively make recommendations that can help the sugar industry come up with a better outcome, a press statement from CONFED said.

Among the other issues raised by stakeholders were the persistently high retail prices of sugar despite the huge volume of importation, the inclusion of complicit government officials and employees as culprits in the proposed Expanded Agricultural Smuggling Act, institutionalization of guidelines for the spending of SRA fees collected from imported sugar, and the activation of the Stakeholders Consultative Assembly under the SIDA Law, it added.

Hontiveros pledged that she will continue consulting with sugar producers and other industry stakeholders, so that she can introduce legislative measures which can more effectively safeguard the welfare of the sugarcane farmers and Filipino consumers, the statement said.*

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