• CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
The Save the Sugar Industry Movement (SAVE-SIM) is calling on the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) and other regulatory agencies of the government to investigate the alleged corruption in the sugar industry.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the alleged corruption in the importation of 450,000 MT tons of refined sugar,” Wennie Sancho, SAVE-SIM lead convenor, said yesterday.
Sancho said they are calling on SRA to be firm and consistent in the enforcement of its regulatory authority to protect the welfare of the small farmers and producers particularly on the approval of import permits in the determination of how much can be imported, without any drastic effects on the stakeholders of the sugar industry.
All interested stakeholders who want to trade should be given equal opportunity to import in the name of justice, fairness and equity, he said.
When the decision-making process in the importation of sugar is subverted so that power and influence in the sugar import business industry falls under the control of those who have no respect for the welfare of the stakeholders in the sugar industry, particularly the workers and the consumers, the system will become a tool for oppression and the promotion of selfish ambition, Sancho said.
A horde of “facilitators” had strategically embedded themselves in the sugar trading import business. They are government officials who are entrenched in the business of sugar import-export trading. Billions of pesos had weakened their force of morality and they have opened the floodgates of unrestricted imported sugar and inequity, he said.
“We were swallowed by the spectra of sugar import liberalization. Corruption is sweeping in the importation of sugar, like an overwhelming tide,” Sancho said.
The government should look into the plight of the marginal farmers and workers in the sugar industry. They should be given a share in the profit of sugar importation for their economic survival in the midst of the unabated practices on the sugar importation business, he said.
As a result of this corruption, the workers in the sugar industry were deprived of their rights, considered as inalienable, that is to live a life of dignity, even in frugal comfort, Sancho said.
The people need to be aroused to resist the advancement of the most dangerous foe of the sugar industry – the unrestricted sugar importation that made corruption deeply rooted at the expense of the poor workers and the economy in general, he said.
Sugar importation has become a bastion of graft and corruption. It was converted into an instrument of oppression by the powers-that-be, when most stakeholders in the sugar industry were left out and only a few favored sugar producers and traders were selected to have a lion’s share in this shoddy business of sugar importation, Sancho added.*