After collaborating in key issues affecting the sugar industry, three planters’ federations representing majority of national sugar production formalized their coalition with the signing of a memorandum of agreement in Bacolod City yesterday.
Enrique Rojas of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP), Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama Jr. of the Confederation of Sugar Producers’ Associations (CONFED) and Danilo Abelita of the Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers (PANAYFED) established a Sugar Producers Coalition, to be called as the Sugar Council.
According to a press release, the Sugar Council serves as venue where sugar producers, with the participation of other concerned stakeholders, may discuss issues and craft recommendations for submission to policy-makers and legislators that advances, promotes and secures the continued viability of the sugar industry.
The group recognizes that a united sugar industry is crucial in protecting, promoting and advancing the interest and welfare of sugar producers through regular and consistent engagement with the government, specifically Congress and the Sugar Regulatory Administration.
The statement from the group recalled that, in the issuance of Sugar Order No. 4 for the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar, the three federations unanimously supported the move. Though some sectors assailed the signatories of Sugar Order No. 4, the three federations likewise stood squarely behind Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama Jr., the Planters Representative to the SRA Board which signed the sugar order.
The propriety of the issuance of Sugar Order No. 4 was later upheld by the Office of the President, exonerating Valderrama and the other signatories. Moreover, present calls for importation by industrial users and other sectors manifest the necessity for the volume of importation stipulated in Sugar Order No. 4.
The three federations further opposed proposals to amend Executive Order No. 18 of the Sugar Regulatory Administration, and they defended SRA from calls for its abolition. They also opposed the proposed sugar importation at the peak of the milling season, because it will depress sugar prices to the disadvantage of sugar farmers.
Together with the Philippine Sugar Millers Association, which represent majority of sugar millers in the country, they submitted last week a joint proposal to amend the Sugarcane Industry Development Act and increase its annual allocation from P2 billion to P5 billion to improve farm productivity and boost mill efficiency.
And earlier this week, they jointly called on SRA to show them the production and demand figures, as well as the volume and schedule of arrival of the proposed importation, which can justify the request by soft drink manufacturers to import sugar.
To formalize their coalition, the three federations formed the Sugar Council to strengthen and amplify their collective voices in issues affecting the industry. Other producers federations are also welcome to join the group.*