Adopted last week was Senate Resolution 213 urging Malacañang not to pursue the liberalization of the sugar industry, which would allow unrestricted importation of the sweetener and jeopardize the welfare of sugar farmers and industry workers in more than 20 provinces in the country.
Ernie Peñaredondo
Senate urges Duterte: Don’t liberalize sugar industry
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - November 18, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate has passed a resolution urging President Duterte to stop the plan of economic managers to allow the liberalization of the country’s sugar industry, a move that the lawmakers say will not only be disastrous for the sector but will also harm the economy.

Adopted last week was Senate Resolution 213 urging Malacañang not to pursue the liberalization of the sugar industry, which would allow unrestricted importation of the sweetener and jeopardize the welfare of sugar farmers and industry workers in more than 20 provinces in the country.

“The deregulated entry of subsidized sugar into the Philippine market will be disastrous to our sugar industry, which contributes an estimated P96 billion to the gross domestic product, particularly to 84,000 farmers—mostly small farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries with each farmer tilling less than a hectare of sugar farmland—and 720,000 industry workers directly affecting almost a million families or five million individuals,” the resolution stated.

The document was signed by 22 senators led by Senate President Vicente Sotto and Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Sen. Sonny Angara, chairman of the finance committee, and Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the agriculture and food committee.

The senators said the proposal of the economic managers will contradict Duterte’s thrust towards food security, and “will severely affect the entire agriculture sector.”

The resolution stated that the Sugar Industry Development Act (SIDA), which was enacted in 2015, has a policy to promote competitiveness of the industry by improving productivity, provide infrastructure support and enhance research.

It said the SIDA law is barely four years into effect and its programs have not yet been fully implemented so “any plan of liberalizing the sugar industry becomes irrelevant and very untimely.”

The senators also warned that if the sugar industry collapses as a result of liberalization, poverty incidence in sugar-producing provinces will shoot up, making these areas a hotbed of insurgency and criminality.

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