Negros farmers join call for SRA chief’s resignation
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - October 23, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Asociacion de Agricultores de la Carlota y Pontevedra Inc. (AALCPI) of Negros Occidental has joined various groups putting pressure on Sugar Regulatory Administration chief Hermenegildo Serafica to protect the industry and not just depend on what Agriculture chief William Dar says.

In a letter, AALCPI president Roberto Cuenca said Serafica should allow somebody else to speak and stand up for the industry if he is not up to the task to do so.

“One who is brave enough to point out what is wrong with the policy of the economic managers and one who is willing to provide the government with sustainable solutions not only for the sugar industry, but also for the whole agriculture sector,” Cuenca said.

“If he cannot fulfill this responsibility then we strongly believe that he should be conscientious enough to step down and resign as SRA administrator,” he said.

Sugar farmers nationwide are getting restless amid the “deafening silence” from the DA and SRA since the Department of Finance issued an economic bulletin calling for the removal of quantitative restrictions on sugar imports.

Dar earlier said the DA would come up with a position paper on the liberalization of sugar.

“His response was such a disappointment. As SRA administrator, he already had the chance to speak on our behalf, he already had the chance to speak for the sugar industry and stand against liberalization and yet he failed,” Cuenca said.

“As the head of the SRA, it is within his power to make conclusions and recommendations on what should be the stand of the government in terms of liberalization. It is within his power to come up with solutions and provide the same to the DA secretary and not the other way around,” he said.

Farmers said the proposed liberalization of sugar imports could cripple the industry.

“We should have learned our lesson from what is happening to the rice farmers and not make the same mistake again and not allow the same fate to happen to sugarcane farmers,” Cuenca said.

“It is clear as daylight that liberalization is not sustainable. It will only benefit very few individuals. It is simply a band-aid solution and more importantly it will kill the sugar industry,” he said.

About 90 percent of AALCPI memberships are small farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries whose livelihoods depend solely on the production of sugar.

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