Bacolod City – The importation of 200,000 metric tons of sugar was temporarily held in abeyance until further notice, due to the issuance of a temporary restraining order by a regional trial court in Negros Occidental, Sugar Regulatory Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica announced recently.
This was contained in a memorandum circular number 5 issued on February 15 by Serafica, informing all applicants under Sugar Order Number 3 that the sugar import program for crop year 2021-2022 was temporarily put on hold.
Sagay RTC Judge Reginald Fuentebella earlier issued a Temporary Restraining Order enjoining and restraining SRA from implementing Sugar Order Number 3 that allows the importation of 200,000 metric tons of sugar, following the filing of a motion for the writ of preliminary injunction by the Rural Sugar Planter’s Association, of which the United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED)is a member.
The mounting opposition against the importation 200,000 metric tons of sugar continues to snowball as Senator Imee Marcos and Negros Occidental Vice Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer demanded an explanation and transparency from the Sugar Regulatory Administration.
“Why is the SRA so enamored of importation? What vows did manufacturers of sugared products make to get the SRA’s I do,” Marcos, who chairsthe Senate committee on Economic Affairs, asked in a statement she issued.
Ferrer asked SRA chief Hermenegildo Serafica to explain why there is a need to import sugar at the height of milling season.
Senate Majority Floor leader Juan Miguel Zubiri sponsored a resolution directing the Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the SRA order to allow sugar importation.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Occidental also passed a resolution expressing its vehement opposition to the sugar importation at the height of milling season.
To justify the importation, the SRA cited the sudden spike in the wholesale and retail of prices of raw and refined sugar after typhoon Odette devastated sugar producing regions of Western Visayas.
UNIFED president Manuel Lamata thanked Zubiri and Marcos for supporting their call to stop sugar importation.
“We are thankful for our champions in the Senate for their strong stance against ill-planned sugar importation and for seeking an inquiry into the questionable importation program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA),” Lamata saidin his issued statement.
Marcos also assailed the DA’s importation program, particularly on fish produce and “regrets” endorsing the confirmation of DA Secretary William Dar.
In a press statement, Marcos said “Dar has done nothing but import rice, chicken, pork, fish, and now sugar.”
Lamata also thanked the Negros Occidental Provincial Board for the passage of a provincial resolution objecting to SO3.
“We are very thankful to our provincial officials for supporting our call. They clearly understand that sugar remains as our economic lifeline and anything that affects the industry will have a major impact in our lives here,” Lamata said.
He reiterated his call for the firing of Serafica “as he has no decency to resign despite everything.” (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)