Bacolod: Guv calls for unity in sugar industry

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Bacolod City – Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson recently called for unity among sugar industry stakeholders amidst a disagreement between a newly appointed SRA board member and the Vice Governor.

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Negrense sugar planter Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama, who campaigned for the presidential bid of former Vice President Leni Robredo in Negros Occidental during the May 9 elections, has been appointed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., as member of the Sugar Regulatory Administration board, representing the planters.

“Mr. Valderrama already made an open letter, and he recognizes the authority of the President. He is at the disposal of the President,” Lacson said.

Valderrama maintained that he neither sought the position as SRA board member nor entertained the idea of getting it, explaining that he was even surprised it was not given to somebody close to the President.

“But how do you say no, if this gesture, were in fact a genuine manifestation of the President’s call for Unity,” he said.

Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer has vowed to find a way to revoke the appointment of Valderrama, after claiming to have been provoked by the latter.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations, Inc. (CONFED), Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers, Inc. (PANAYFED) and the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters Inc. (NFSP), which collectively comprises 57.48 percent of total sugar production, have expressed their support to the appointment of Valderrama as SRA board member, representing the planters.

In a joint statement, the three sugar planters groups said that Valderrama is an excellent choice to represent the planters as member of SRA Sugar Board, as he adheres to the spirit of teamwork and consultation in matters that affect the industry as a whole.

Lacson said “it is not good to say that there is now a brewing disagreement between groups here in Negros Occidental. After all, we should be united, and we should be solid for the sugar industry.”

He added that he is thankful for Vice Gov. Ferrer for his role in the decision of the President to reject the proposed importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar, by the Sugar Regulatory Administration, at the onset of milling season.

We have to give that credit also to Vice Gov. Ferrer, in his new assignment as Personal Adviser for Western Visayas of the President, Lacson said.

As to the appointment of Valderrama, Lacson said “I think the move of the President also emphasized that he is calling for unity during the campaign period, and he wants the unity to actually prosper.”

Valderrama said he accepted the call “with a motivation and his most fervent wish, to help unite the industry, to put their acts together, to speak with one voice, and to work as one, to address the many challenges, confronting the sugar industry, in these difficult times.”

While he sees no problem parties questioning and seeking the revocation of his appointment, Valderrama said “I am not indispensable nor do I covet the position. I will not turn my back on the chance to serve the industry, but I do not wish to burden the President if this has become a problem for him. There is no need for debate or recrimination. I am at the President’s disposal.”

“If the President finds it appropriate to enlist someone else, let us respect his prerogative and wish them success,” he added. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)

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