Planters threaten boycott, file graft raps vs. SRA chief

The biggest sugar planters’ aggrupation has threatened to “boycott” products, particularly of beverage companies who will take part in the sugar importation program of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) through Sugar Order No. 3 (SO3).

Associacion de Agricultores de la Carlota y Pontevedra Inc. (AALCPI) general manager, David Alba, said in a press release that they earlier issued a call to all traders and importers that they will file technical smuggling charges if imported sugar is brought into the country under SO3.

“It seems our appeal has not been heeded and so, we are now preparing to call on our members and other stakeholders in the sugar industry to boycott products of those who will use technically smuggled sugar,” Alba said.

AALCPI is an independent sugar group which has a membership of over 13,000 sugar farmers, most of whom are Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries in Negros Island.

Alba, in behalf of AALCPI, became an intervenor in a case originally filed by the Negros Occidental Federation of Farmers’ Association (NOFFA) against the implementation of SO3 which is still pending for resolution in Himamaylan, Negros Occidental.

However, despite a Writ of Preliminary Injunction against SO3, the SRA and the Department of Agriculture pushed for its implementation last month by allowing traders and importers outside of Western Visayas to participate in the import program.

Alba said they will also join the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices raps filed against SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica, lawyer Guillermo Tejida III who is the Deputy Administrator for Regulations and other SRA officials who “endorsed, approved, aided and abetted in the commission of acts constituting graft and corrupt practices” by NOFFA.

“We will also file graft and corrupt practices cases against industrial users of sugar who conspired with public officers in the commission of these unlawful acts,” Alba said.

“These industrial users will have to temper their corporate greed and instead consider the plight of millions of sugar stakeholders who will be severely affected by the entry of imported sugar,” he added.

There are about 5 million stakeholders dependent on the sugar industry. ARBs and small farmers comprise more than 80 percent of sugar producers in the country, more than 50 percent of which are situated in Negros which is known as the sugar bowl of the Philippines, the press release said.

The last mass action against beverage products led by the sugar industry was in 2016 when they issued nationwide call to boycott Coca Cola products for importing and using High Fructose Corn Sugar, a sugar substitute.

“We are prepared to do it again against companies who continue to operate without regard for the lives and livelihood of small farmers,” Alba said.*

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