• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The 10,000 southern Negros farmers have again called on President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., to act upon the revival of the Dacongcogon sugar mill project in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, a petition submitted to Malacañang last year, that has yet to be acted on, as of this time.
Retired government prosecutor Rolando Parpa, chairperson of the Dacongcogon Farmers Producers Cooperative (DFPC), in a statement said that Malacañang should act now, on the call for social justice.
Parpa said that the revival of the mill project would ease suffering of the people in the area who lack a milling facility, and help increase sugar production in Negros and the national sugar supply, noting that the government is importing P100 billion worth of sugar.
While the closed sugar mill is privately owned by the Philippine National Bank, he stressed that public and national security interests require government intervention, and as a demand for social justice amidst social unrest at the hinterlands.
Parpa further said that the sugar mill which served the hinterland farmers for 40 years, but was mothballed in 2008, is now a rotting economic facility.
In September last year, he recalled that Agriculture Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban and the Office of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), endorsed a request for a private meeting between then President Rodrigo Duterte and representatives of the DFPC, in connection with the petition of sugar farmers.
Parpa, however, lamented that it did not push through, as they were told that the Chief Executive had more important state affairs to attend to.
We hope the people around the President would consider that people are getting killed, and thousands dislocated in Negros due to insurgency. It is important to deserve President’s attention, the retired government prosecutor said.
The military says “development will kill the NPA,” Parpa said. Yet, government itself “killed development” by not responding to pleas to revive the sugar mill, that in its first 25 years of operation, generated P2.2 billion that circulated in Dacongcogon Valley, he stressed.
Government failure to address the Dacongcogon issue is a towering example of “unresolved issues and root causes needing to be addressed,” Parpa pointed out.*