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Labor groups urge PBBM to stop sugar importation

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• CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO

Eight labor groups in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental have submitted an omnibus resolution to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. yesterday, with an urgent plea to stop and to hold in abeyance the implementation of the importation of 450,000 metric tons of refined sugar.

Resolution No. 001, series of 2023 was signed by Wennie Sancho, General Alliance of Workers Association secretary general and lead convenor of Save the Sugar Industry Movement (SAVE-SIM); Jun Dela Cruz, national director for Organizing National Congress of Union in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines;

Nelson Demegillo, president of Commercial Agro-Industrial Labor Organization (CAILO); Jovito Berdin, chairman of Alliance of Labor for Reform (ALARM); Allan Gozon, chairman of Democratic Alliance of Labor Sector (DALO);

Alex Maloloy-on, president of United Sugar Farmers Organization (USFO); Benjie De la Cruz, national secretary general of Philippine Agriculture Commercial Industrial Workers Union (PACIWU); and Elmer Dela Guinzon, president of United MCI Labor Union Chapter.

The resolution said the supporters of the 450,000 MT importation plan came to announce the blessings, but did not dare point out the danger from afar, the anticipated economic injury, untold irreparable damage which would be an added form of injustice to the sugar farmers, workers, small producers and mill workers in the sugar industry.

The importation of 450,000 MT of refine sugar will condemn to economic bankruptcy the sugar industry’s 84,000 planters and the employment and livelihood loss of its 720,000 agricultural workers; 26,000 mill workers and some 3 million downstream dependents. They are the people who stand to lose the most in the industry, if imported sugar will flood the country, it said.

We support the importation of a more conservative volume of sugar which is lesser than 450,000 MT and that the importation should be only for a specific volume needed for the buffer stock and should be released in a “calibrated and timely manner” considering the welfare of the local farmers and producers, and their laborers,” the resolution said.

We demand an explanation from the officials of SRA as to why they had vehemently opposed the 200,000 MT of imported sugar in Sugar Order No. 3 and the 300,000 MT in Sugar Order No. 4, and how SRA considered the importation of 450,000 MT of refine sugar as acceptable? it said.

SRA, which is composed of government accountable officers, should provide us with figures on the actual shortage, actual projection as to the volume of sugar needed for our buffer stock. The SRA owes us an explanation as to why there was a sudden turnaround in their position on the importation of sugar, the resolution added.*

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