• CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
Organized labor groups in Negros Island vehemently oppose the plan of the government to import about 450,000 metric tons of refined sugar, Save the Sugar Industry Movement (SAVE-SIM) lead convenor Wennie Sancho said yesterday.
“The unregulated entry of unsubsidized imported sugar will be disastrous to our sugar industry and would bring grave injustice and untold irreparable damage and losses to the industry,” Sancho said.
“More than 90 percent of the sugar farmers are agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) who soldiered on planting sugar without full government support. Thrusting them to slug it out with imported sugar in the domestic market without protection, under a regime of sugar import liberalization, will only add cruelty to government neglect,” he said.
Sancho said that if imported sugar will flood the market, sugar farmworkers will have their “tiempos muertos” not only for three months, but for a lifetime.
Five big labor federations and associations like NACUSIP, GAWA, PASIWU, CIO and USFO among others, have declared their solidarity with SAVE-SIM in opposing the plan to import 450,000 MT of sugar, he said.
The government enforcement agencies should run after unscrupulous sugar traders, hoarders, profiteers, and sugar smugglers, rather than push their plan for the importation of sugar, Sancho said.
In line with this advocacy, SAVE-SIM and GAWA will hold a press conference on Friday at 10 a.m. at the Negros Press Club to safeguard the welfare of the sugar workers, he added.*