Bacolod: ‘Direct importation will kill sugar industry’ – Rep. Emilio ‘Dino’ Yulo III


Bacolod City – The vehement opposition to the call of Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno to allow direct importation of sugar continues to snowball, as Negros Occidental 5th District Rep. Emilio ‘Dino’ Yulo III said “it will kill the sugar industry.”

Sugar planters’ federations in the country are opposing sugar liberalization, which according to Diokno is a “reasonable compromise,” following plans to raise taxes on sugary drinks.

Yulo, a former member of the Sugar Regulatory Administration Board, disclosed that the plans to liberalize the sugar industry, which has been pushed by industrial users in the past, “will be largely felt by small sugar producers,” noting that the sugar industry is composed of 90 percent marginalized farmers.

“The sugar industry is the lifeblood of the province,” he stressed, citing the statement of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) that “liberalization will not favor any particular sector.”

Senator JV Ejercito, United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED), and the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP), have aired opposition to Diokno’s plan.

Under the present system, the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) regulates the importation of sugar and determines the volume to be imported, after assessing the local industry’s capability to satisfy the country’s consumption demands.

NFSP president Enrique Rojas, in separate statement said “allowing manufacturers of sweetened beverages to directly import sugar will wreak havoc on the long-established government regulations over the sugar industry, and it will further destabilize the livelihood of thousands of marginal sugarcane farmers.”

UNIFED president Manuel Lamata said they are “totally against the move of Diokno to liberalize importation in favor of a few industrial users,” as he sought the intervention of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who is also the concurrent Agriculture secretary. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)

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