“The relentless increases in fuel prices are killing our local farmers, particularly the thousands of marginal sugarcane farmers who rely solely on their sugar production for their livelihood,” Enrique D. Rojas, National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP) president, said Tuesday, March 8.
“We call on the government to expedite the suspension of excise taxes on fuel and to include sugarcane farmers in the fuel subsidies for the agriculture sector to mitigate the adverse impact of these unprecedented fuel price hikes,” he said.
Rojas also called on the mills to increase the trucking allowance of sugarcane farmers to lessen the effect of these fuel price hikes on production cost.
Oil companies implemented a “one time-big time” increase of more than P5 per liter and more than P3 per liter for diesel and gasoline, respectively, on Tuesday.
“The extent of the increase has never been experienced before in the country. Worse, fuel prices are forecasted to increase even more by next week, “ he said.
The global surge in fuel prices is attributed to the decreasing production from conflict-torn oil-producing countries in the Middle East, exacerbated by the recent flare-up of the war between Russia and Ukraine.
While President Rodrigo Duterte has recognized the need to review the Oil Deregulation Law, the President has not yet called on the House of Representatives and the Senate to conduct an emergency session to review the law.
Meanwhile, other sectors urged the government for the immediate suspension of the imposition of excise taxes on fuel products to soften the effects of the seemingly unending fuel price increases on the already burdened Filipinos.
“The TRAIN Law (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion or RA 10963) currently imposes an excise tax of P10 per liter on gasoline, P6 per liter on diesel, and P5 per liter on kerosene. The suspension of the excise tax on fuel can provide quick relief to our people, particularly the marginal sugarcane farmers who can barely earn a decent profit from their farm because of the ever-increasing production cost,” Rojas added.
“Our small farmers have been battered by increasing production cost caused by high prices of fertilizer and other farm inputs, labor cost and transportation expenses. While we receive a trucking allowance from the mills, it is not enough for the full cost of transporting our canes from the farm to the mills. Thus, we hope the mills can help us by increasing our trucking allowance,” the NFSP president said.
The trucking allowance given by the mills covers only 60 to 70 percent of the actual transport cost incurred by the farmers. The amount which the farmers spend to cover the deficiency in transport cost cuts into their already meager returns from their farms.
“This is the opportune time for the mills to show their concern for the sugarcane farmers, who are their partners in the industry. Without the canes of the farmers, the mills will have no feedstock for producing sugar. The least that the mills can do for the farmers is to increase the trucking allowance in this time of severe crisis,” Rojas pointed out.
Government has announced a subsidy of P2.5 billion for the public transport sector and P500 million for the agricultural sector. However, the proposed guidelines mention only rice farmers as the target beneficiaries for the fuel subsidy, Rojas said.
Rojas said government should include the sugar farmers in the government subsidy for the agriculture sector because sugarcane farmers, particularly the thousands of marginal farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries, also need the government assistance.*