President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday promised to solve the problem of the unabated entry of High Fructose Corn Syrup into the country that is driving down the prices of domestically produced sugar, Bukidnon Gov. Jose Maria Zubiri Jr. said.
The president was informed in a meeting with sugar leaders in Davao City, that the massive use of HFCS by food and beverage firms in the country has driven down the price of cane sugar from P1,800 per Lkg last year to about P1,400 per Lkg this year, Zubiri told the DAILY STAR.
If the unabated entry of HFCS is not stopped, industry leaders have warned that the Philippine sugar industry will collapse.
The president said we cannot allow 5 million Filipinos dependent on the sugar industry to go hungry, a solution must be found, Zubiri said.
“The president said sugar smuggling will be stopped, he was great, he was receptive to everything we asked for,”Zubiriadded. Among the suggestions was to raise tariffs on HFCS, and the Sugar Regulatory Administration was tasked to regulate it, Zubiri said.
Duterte set a National Economic and Development Authority meeting to also be attended byZubiri and Bernard Trebol on Monday to further discuss how to stop the entry of HFCS, which will include the suggested raising of tariffs, Zubiri said.
The president’s meeting with the sugar industry leaders that lasted an hour and a half, was arranged by Zubiri, Manuel Lamata, president of the United Sugar Producers' Federation of the Philippines (UNIFED), said. We discussed the problems of the sugar industry, Lamata said.
Present at the meeting, aside from Zubiri and Lamata were Agriculture UndersecretarySegfredo Serrano who has been named by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol as chairman of the Sugar Board, SRA Administrator Anna Rosario Paner, former SRA heads Nico Alonso and Trebol, DaniloAbelita of Panay Fed, Enrique Rojas of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, and Francisco de la Rama of the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations.
Meanwhile, Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Richard Gordon are also calling for a Senate inquiry on the entry of HFCS into the country at the expense of the domestic sugar industry.
Resolution No. 285 is expected to be heard by the Senate Committee on Agriculture as the primary body and the Senate Committee on Trade as the secondary committee, Senator Zubiri said.*CPG
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