Bacolod: Sugar planters’ group slams SRA head anew

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Bacolod City – The United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED) again lashed out at Sugar Regulatory Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica for claiming that critics of the sugar importation program have politicized the issue.

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“That’s a very lame excuse he (Serafica) can come up with because he cannot justify the provisions in the proposed Sugar Order No. 4 that clearly favors the industrial users, particularly the bottling companies,” UNIFED President Manuel Lamata said.

“It is clear that Serafica is no longer capable of heading the Sugar Regulatory Administration. We are fighting for the survival of our industry and it is ironic that the regulating body that is supposed to protect our interest is instead out to destroy us. He has been working against us to protect the greedy industrial users,” Lamata added.

Lamata said any major sugar importation favoring a particular sector will “trigger a price war that will be disastrous for the industry, yet Serafica persists in doing it despite a previous case we filed against him.”

SRA has yet to implement a sugar importation order after two regional trial courts stopped the imposition of Sugar Order 3 in February 2022.

UNIFED, one of the biggest planters’ groups in the country was among those that filed the case.

They earlier accused Serafica of making a “midnight deal” with industrial users after a draft proposal of SO 4 was released to the public which provides for the importation of 350,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar.

Lamata laughed off Serafica’s denial that there is “no midnight deal or sweet deal” on SO 4 and that he is making the move for the “greater good.”

“How can he claim that when it is very clear that this draft sugar order is clearly going to benefit the bottlers’ group. How dare he claim this is all about food security when the consuming public is not the outright beneficiary of this proposed importation program,” he said, adding “why then did he (Serafica) restrict it to industrial users if he is worried about the regular consumers,” Lamata said.

UNIFED also said that there is no basis for SRA to claim that there won’t be enough sugar to meet domestic consumption in the coming months.

“It is not your call to declare a shortage when sugar mills are still in operation. It has always been standard practice at end of milling that a national survey of all sugar mills be initiated to determine the outstanding sugar stocks of sugar raw and refined on all sugar mills. That is the only time you will know for sure if there is a surplus or shortage. Then and only then can you initiate the next steps,” Lamata said. (Dolly Yasa via The Daily Guardian (TDG), photo courtesy of TDG)

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