BY CARLA P. GOMEZ
An Iloilo official is appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte and Agriculture Secretary William Dar to consider putting a stop to the export of Philippine sugar to the United States that will cause Filipino farmers to lose about P920,000,000.
Board Member Matt Palabrica (Iloilo, 3rd District) told the DAILY STAR yesterday that he authored a resolution that was approved by the Iloilo Sanguniang Panlalawigan Tuesday, copies of which will be sent to the president and the DA secretary before the end of the week.
The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Board in Sugar Order No. 1 issued in September allocated 7 percent of the country’s sugar production for crop year 2020-2021 as “A” for the US Market and 93 percent as “B” for the domestic market.
In his resolution, Palabrica said, it is estimated that the Philippines produces about 2,100,000 metric tons of sugar while the national demand for the commodity is about 2,500,00 metric tons.
This means a production deficit of about 400,000 metric tons, so there is no reason to export local sugar to the US at a much lower price of about P350 per bag or P7,000 per metric ton, he said.
Palabrica pointed out that it has been the practice of the sugar industry to “force” the “A” sugar allocation to be priced lower at 70.48 percent of “B” sugar intended for the local market.
The “forced” export of sugar to the US market at the rate of 7 percent of the country’s total production, or an average of 140,000 metric tons, means Filipino farmers lose about P920,000,000 in one crop year, he said.
After exporting to sugar the US market, the Philippines then has to import sugar to meet domestic needs, he said.
The volume of imported sugar is sizable at about 350,000 to 500,000 metric tons annually and is estimated to value about P110,000,000,000, making it attractive for certain sectors to get involved, as a big time business and undertake manipulations to the disadvantage of the farmers and consumers, Palabrica said.
“This disadvantageous situation for the sugar farmers may be corrected by stopping the export of our sugar to the US and to provide more support for the farmers by way of technology and financial or credit facility”, Palabrica said.
SRA Board Member Emilio “Dino” Yulo said the determination of the sugar classification went through proper consultation and this was even in the news with proposals ranging from 0 to 3, 5 and 6 percent, the highest being 7 percent, which was what the majority of the SRA board decided.
“However, let it just be stressed that industry stakeholders were consulted, including all sugar federations, unaffiliated groups, and the millers through the Philippine Sugar Millers Association,” he added.
Nevertheless, he welcomes any investigation “as this is a democratic country and so we will be given a chance to air our side in the proper venue”, Yulo said.*