Newly-designated Sugar Regulatory Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica yesterday assured leaders of the sugar industry that Special Order Number 3, which regulates the entry and use of high fructose corn syrup in the country, “will remain as such”.
Serafica stressed that he was part of the formulation of SO3. “It was a done deal already”, he added.
Serafica took his oath of office before Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol during the sugarcane stakeholders' forum at the SRA Training Center in Bacolod City yesterday.
Concerns were raised that Serafica may soften his stand against HFCS, the importation of which by beverage companies badly hurt the sugar industry in the country.
The Save the Sugar Industry Movement and the NACUSIP-TUCP labor organization expressed apprehensions that Serafica's appointment as SRA head could lead to the revocation of SO3.
“I assure the sugar industry that it is still binding. We have the support of Secretary Piñol and the President,” Serafica said, apparently referring to the SO3.
Serafica, who replaced Anna Rosario Paner as SRA chief, thanked Piñol and President Duterte for giving him their trust and confidence.
He admitted that “lots of challenges” are now being faced by the sugar industry, especially the farmers.
“We'll just have to move forward and faster this time,” he added.
Serafica refused to comment on the reduction of the Sugarcane Industry Development Act fund by P1 billion next year. “We are still in budget issues right now. I don't want to pre-empt what will be given to the industry,” he said.
But he called on sugar industry stakeholders to continue their vigilance. The bottom line, Serafica said, is competitiveness, and reducing the cost of production, to be able to compete with Asean neighbors.
“There is no more going back. We have to look forward for farm mechanization. We have to accept the fact that farm mechanization is the only way to go,” he said.*GPB
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