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NFSP thanks solons for HB No 1199

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Enrique Rojas, president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP), communicated NFSP’s gratitude, through individual letters sent yesterday, to the representatives who authored a House Resolution opposing sugar import liberalization.

“In behalf of all the officers and members of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters Inc. from all over the country, I wish to convey to you our gratitude for being one of the authors of House Resolution No. 1199, expressing strong opposition against the sugar import liberalization proposed by Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, which will allow food and beverage manufacturers to direct import sugar,” stated Rojas.

“Allowing food and beverage manufacturers to directly import will wreak havoc on the long-established government regulations over the sugar industry, and it will further destabilize the livelihood of thousands of marginal farmers,” the NFSP president added.

NFSP’s gesture was prompted by House Resolution No. 1199 filed recently by all the representatives from Negros Island and one representative from Iloilo Province. The resolution expresses the House of Representatives’ “strong opposition to liberalization of importation of sugar, in consideration of its negative impact on the domestic sugar industry.”

HR No. 1199 is authored by Reps. Jose Francisco Benitez (Neg. Occ – 3rd District), Joseph Stephen Paduano (Abang Lingkod), Greg Gasataya (Lone District of Bacolod City), Gerardo Valmayor Jr. (Neg. Occ – 1st District), Alfredo Marañon III (Neg. Occ – 2nd District), Juliet Marie Ferrer (Neg. Occ – 4th District), Emilio Bernardino Yulo (Neg. Occ – 5th District), Mercedes Alvarez (Neg. Occ – 6th District), Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong (Neg. Or – 1st District) and Manuel Sagarbarria (Neg. Or – 2nd District) and Michael Gorriceta (Iloilo – 2nd District).

The eleven solons were compelled to file the resolution at the House of Representatives after Finance Sec. Benjamin Diokno proposed increasing the tariff on beverages sweetened by sugar from the current P6/liter to P12/liter.

As a trade-off to soften the opposition to the proposal by affected manufacturers of beverages and food products using sugar, Diokno additionally proposed to allow these affected manufacturers to directly import sugar for their factories, thereby effectively liberalizing sugar importation.

“Diokno’s proposal for sugar import liberalization will benefit only a handful of importers and manufacturers of sugar-sweetened beverages and food products, but it will be detrimental to the thousands of marginal sugarcane planters, because their domestically produced sugar will be displaced by cheaper, highly subsidized imported sugar,” Rojas explained.

Rojas fully agreed with the solons’ stand that liberalizing sugar importation without adequate support to local sugarcane farmers will weaken the domestic sugar industry or, God forbid, lead to its untimely demise.

He assured the solons of NFSP’s all-out support in the initiative in opposing sugar import liberalization, and vowed that NFSP will always remain vigilant in protecting the sugar industry, particularly the welfare of the marginal farmers.*

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