• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Thousands of sugar farmers in southern Negros have expressed their dismay and disgust over the failure of government to act on their petitions for the revival of Dacongcogon sugar mill in far flung Brgy. Tabugon, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental.
Retired government prosecutor Rolando Parpa, in a statement disclosed that their petition is still pending, and has not been acted on by Malacañang, since January 19, 2021.
Ignoring the petitions of 10,000 farmers and resolutions issued by 16 local government units, from barangay to the municipal level for so long is the “highest degree of social injustice and betrayal of the oath to uphold the Constitution,” Parpa said.
He stressed that the Dacongcogon experience “reveals governmental culture of indifference towards the hinterland poor,” which explains why some people rebel to overthrow the government.
“Let not government apathy destroy the hinterland Dacongcogon socio-economic institution that had proven its worth in the past forty years,” Parpa said.
The sugar mill is a legacy of the late Bacolod Bishop Antonio Fortich, who established it with businessman Benjamen Gaston in 1968.
The Philippine National Bank bought the Dacongcogon Producers Cooperative Marketing Association, Inc. (DPCMA), which had an outstanding loan of P51.43 million as of September 2009, and then later foreclosed it.
Parpa, who chaired the Dacongcogon Farmers Producers Cooperative (DFPC), disclosed that the government has no program more beneficial to the Dacongcogon farmers, than reviving and preserving the local sugar milling facility.
He is hopeful that the Dacongcogon advocacy could strike a chord in the hearts of enlightened Negrenses, and help their disadvantaged brethren by strongly urging President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to revive the sugar mill.
Let government prove there is social justice in Negros by answering the petition of 10,000 people at the Dacongcogon Valley – whether or not it would be granted, rather than ignoring them as if they do not exist, Parpa said.
He stressed that the longer government delays action on the farmers’ petition and to negotiate with PNB on the mill asset to revive the socio-economic mill project as only solution to end insurgency-related killings in the area, the list of people killed gets longer and their blood would be on government’s hands.*