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Monday, December 4, 2023

Bacolod: Planters buck SRA abolition

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Bacolod City – The proposed abolition of the Sugar Regulatory Administration was met with vehement opposition from sugar planters and Negros Occidental 5th District Rep. Emilio “Dino” Yulo.

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Pablo Luis Azcona, who represents planters in the SRA Board, justified the existence of SRA, stressing that it is needed to regulate the sugar industry in the Philippines.

“We have businessmen who do not care about the farmers, and what they care about is maximum profit,” Azcona pointed out.

If they are allowed by the government “to import unlimitedly,” their profit will go up but all the farmers will die, he said.

“We want the protection, and we want our sugar to be consumed first before the imports come,” Azcona stressed.

Former Sugar Board Member and current Negros Occidental 5th District Rep. Emilio “Dino” Yulo said that the abolition of the SRA will mean “unabated importation like what is happening with the rice industry.”

“We cannot do away with the regulatory powers of the SRA,” Yulo said.

Manuel Lamata, president of the United Sugar Producers Federation (Unifed), said he is also not in favor that the SRA will be abolished, stressing that it is now effective.

David John Thaddeus, a Negrense, was designated by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the acting SRA administrator, replacing Hermenigildo Serafica, who resigned from his post amidst the sugar importation mess.

Lamata said the problem was the people who were manning the SRA.

Cornelio Toreja, president of Luzon Federation of Sugarcane Growers Association, said that abolishing the SRA and incorporating it with the Department of Agriculture “will hurt the sugar industry.”

Albay Representative Joey Salceda said he favors the abolition of the SRA, claiming that is has not been very effective in its role of local industry development, citing low utilization rates of SIDA and TRAIN Law funds have hounded that agency.

“It is certainly a failed agency, judging by the outcomes of its mandates,” Salceda said in a statement.

SIDA refers to the Sugarcane Industry Development Act, while the TRAIN law is the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion policy of the government.

“I would suggest that sugar industry programs be streamlined within the DA instead, as is consistent with the overall direction of President Bongbong Marcos to streamline agricultural support,” Salceda said. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)

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