Bacolod: No sugar crisis – Guv

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Bacolod City – Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson disagrees with claims of some sectors that there is a “sugar crisis” amid reports of shortage in supply and soaring retail prices, that also prompted the government to import sugar.

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I don’t think there is, Lacson said, adding that retail sugar is still available in local markets, although the prices have gone up.

“It’s just the price, but obviously it’s not us planters whose benefitting from that. It’s always the traders, the governor, who is also a sugar planter, said.

Lacson stressed the need for the Department of Trade Industry to investigate the high prices of sugar in the market.

He also said that there is no quarrel with importation, noting that there are also sugar leaders who are saying the importation is okay, but it should be refined not just raw sugar.

It is just we have to agree on the volume, its timing when to come in, and to watch for possible smuggling, he added.

“When there is importation, there is a tendency for smuggling,” Lacson stressed.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier said that the government may import 150,000 MT of sugar in October, half of the 300,000 MT earlier proposed by the Sugar Regulatory Administration, if there is a depletion of supply.*

Meanwhile, Negrense sugar planter Aurelio Gerardo “Bodie” Valderrama has the support of Gov. Lacson regarding his stand to await the decision of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., on whether or not he stays in his position as the remaining Sugar Regulatory Administration board member.

This was after SRA chief Hermenegildo Serafica and Sugar Board member Atty. Roland Beltran have resigned from their respective posts, due to sugar importation mess hounding the SRA, which is chaired by the President.

Valderrama was appointed two weeks ago by President Marcos Jr. as a member of the Sugar Board, representing the planters, while Serafica and Beltran were appointees of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

“I agree with Mr. Valderrama that he will wait for the decision of the President,” Lacson, a sugar planter himself said, stressing he himself is “At the disposal of the President.”

Valderrama, dubbed the “last man standing,” at the SRA board, sent a letter to the President on August 15, “explaining what happened (during the issuance of Sugar Order No. 4) and for the President to say if he wants me to resign or not.”

“I did not seek the appointment but accepted it with the intention of bringing the producers voice to the SRA and to help craft measures to address industry concerns,” he said.

Valderrama explained that the proposed sugar importation was based on SRA’s official data and supply/demand analysis, as well as prevailing high market prices, which established a clear basis for additional imports. This is supported by resolutions from industry stakeholders themselves, including those who now demand our resignation, Valderrama pointed out, in a statement he issued.

As for the probe on sugar importation, Lacson said “the mistake was that Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Santiago signed the Sugar Order Number 4.” The order calls for the importation of 300,000MT of sugar.

“The right thing to do then was to present their recommendation to the President, for the Chief Executive, whether to approve it or not,” he said.

Obviously, the President did not approve it, Lacson said.

However, President Marcos Jr. came up a later statement that he is now in favor of importing 150,000MT of sugar, and it will be refined sugar, while some planters stressed that it should be raw, and not refined sugar. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)

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