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UNIFED slams Serafica anew

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

The United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED) lashed out at Sugar Regulatory Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica anew for stating that critics of the sugar importation program have politicized the issue.

“That’s a very lame excuse he (Serafica) can come up with because he cannot justify the provisions in the proposed Sugar Order No. 4 that clearly favors the industrial users, particularly the bottling companies,” UNIFED President Manuel Lamata said.

The SO 4 draft signed by Serafica seeks to import 350,000 metric tons of sugar, composed of 250,000 MT refined sugar, 150,000 MT premium grade or bottlers’ grade refined sugar and the remaining 100,000 MT raw sugar.

Stakeholders of the sugar industry strongly debunked claims of Serafica that the issue on sugar importation has become ‘very political’ after his draft proposal SO4 was leaked to the public.

Lamata said that Serafica should now get out from the Sugar Regulatory Administration so that the new administration can tackle the needs of the sugar industry.

He stressed that Serafica is no longer capable of heading the SRA, as he has been working against the sugar industry in order to protect what he calls “greedy industrial users.”

We are fighting for the survival of our industry and it is ironic that the regulating body that is supposed to protect our interest is instead out to destroy us, Lamata said.

SRA has yet to successfully implement a sugar importation order after two regional trial courts stopped the implementation of Sugar Order 3 last February. UNIFED, one of the biggest planters’ groups in the country was among those that filed the case.

“It is a fact that any major importation favoring a particular sector will trigger a price war that will be disastrous for the industry, yet Serafica persists in doing it despite a previous case we filed against him,” Lamata said.

Incumbent SRA Board Member Rolly Beltran, who has not signed the draft proposal, also questioned why the importation program is being limited to a particular class of importers.

“Why not make the importation program all inclusive? Why not allow the major stakeholders to participate in the importation program rather than to a select few, favoring a particular class of importers to the prejudice of the sugar industry as well as the economy in general,” Beltran asked.

Former SRA board member Dino Yulo earlier strongly debunked the claim that politics was involved in their opposition to SO 4, when the survival of the sugar industry is at stake.

Lamata added that there is no basis for SRA to claim that there won’t be enough sugar to meet domestic consumption in the coming months.

“It is not your call to declare a shortage when sugar mills are still in operation. It has always been standard practice at end of milling that a national survey of all sugar mills be initiated to determine the outstanding sugar stocks of sugar raw and refined on all sugar mills. That is the only time you will know for sure if there is a surplus or shortage. Then and only then can you initiate the next steps,” he pointed out.*

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May 2022
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