SRA: No plan to import sugar; UNIFED slams Sugar Council

Sugar workers in Negros Occidental.*Ronnie Baldonado photo

There is no plan to import sugar contrary to the claim of the Sugar Council, Sugar Regulatory Administrator Pablo Azcona said on Wednesday, February 7.

This was also echoed by United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED) President Manuel Lamata, who said “We cannot wait and indulge the caprices of opposing sugar groups who seem bent to divide the sugar industry at the expense of our sugar farmers who are waiting for the full implementation of the government intervention.”

Lamata, in a press statement issued Wednesday, was reacting to the recent statement issued by the Sugar Council ”in their opposition to a second program where traders will purchase local sugar and be put on reserve. This is in addition to the initial P5 billion buy-back local sugar scheme from the national government”.

“UNIFED, along with the Asociacion de Agricultores de la Carlota y Pontevedra Inc. (AALCPI) which remains the largest independent sugar planters group in the country, and LuzonFed, are in full support of the government intervention discussed with Department of Agriculture Sec. Francisco Tiu Laurel and Sugar Regulatory Administrator Pablo Azcona,” Lamata said.

He added that their group, including sugar planter, Mike Hinojales who handles one of the biggest sugar landholdings in the country, are “thankful to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who listened and answered our appeal to help our farmers amidst declining sugar prices.”

“I am stumped why these other federations called the ‘student council’ does not want sugar prices to go up? What gives? Have they become traders or are working for traders? They are trying to come up with delaying tactics which will result to a longer waiting game for our already suffering sugar farmers,” Lamata said.

He was referring to the Sugar Council composed of the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations Inc., the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters Inc., and Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers Inc. that “shunned” the meeting called for by SRA on January 25 in Bacolod, Lamata said.

Instead they sent representatives with the advisement not to present any position in behalf of their federations, the reason being the wordings of the invitation, he added.

“If they were really interested in the government programs for the benefit of the farmers, they could have clarified the invitation, and they didn’t,” he said.

“They even refused sending letters asking the President to increase the PITC budget for buying local sugar from P5B to P12B, which was previously discussed and formally agreed upon in in front of Sec. Laurel and Admin Azcona last month. Why refuse? You don’t want to help your farmers?” Lamata asked

Lamata was referring to the letter of CONFED President Aurelio Valderrama to SRA stating that “the submission of a request to increase the government intervention budget from P5B to P12B is moot and academic. After all, it was CONFED that authored the P12B proposal presented by the Sugar Council to Sec. Laurel on January 9.”

“Sadly, their action speaks of arrogance to say the least and I hope their member-planters realize what these so-called leaders are doing at their expense. Our farmers on the other hand cannot wait any longer and we hope and pray that government will fast track the implementation of this intervention so we will no longer suffer the declining price of sugar,” Lamata added.

In separate statements, AALCPI President Roberto Cuenca, LuzonFed’s Board led by President Cornelio Toreja and Hinojales endorsed the proposed draft of a sugar order discussed during the SRA meeting with their own requests for SRA to allocate between 20-30 percent of quedans issued prior to the effectivity of the program so that the farmers can enjoy the benefits of the Sugar Order, the UNIFED press release said.

The proposal covers the limited volume purchase of locally produced sugar for reclassification to reserve sugar to avail of allocation for the next import program, the intention of which is to uplift farmgate prices to a better and stable level while ensuring optimal retail prices, it said.

“While we all see hope in this, these clearly pink-minded leaders only see red and are just finding reasons to oppose the current administration in whatever way they can,” Lamata said.*

Secured By miniOrangeSecured By miniOrange