By Dolly Yasa
BACOLOD City – Convenors of the Save the Sugar Industry Movement (SAVE-SIM) asked President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to stop the importation of 450,000 metric tons (MT) of refined sugar.
The group said this call is contained in an omnibus resolution they will submit to Pres. Marcos.
The omnibus resolution signed by Wenni Sancho, General Alliance of Workers Association and lead convenor of SAVE-SIM; and Jun Dela Cruz, national director for Organizing National Congress of Union in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines, said the importation “involves a wise and prudent decision.”
The group asked for the actual and projected production and consumption figures for this year to determine if there is a need to import sugar.
Sancho said it is necessary that the accountable officials of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) should state categorically what is the actual shortage, as well as the average monthly sugar consumption of household, industrial and institutional consumers.
“We support the importation of a more conservative volume of sugar which is lesser than 450,000 MT and that the importation should be only for a specific volume needed for the buffer stock and should be released in a “calibrated and timely manner” considering the welfare of the local farmers and producers, and their laborers,” Sancho said.
“We demand an explanation from the officials of SRA as to why they had vehemently opposed the 200,000 MT of imported sugar in Sugar Order No. 3 and the 300,000 MT in Sugar Order No. 4 and how SRA had considered the importation of 450,000 MT of refined sugar as acceptable?”
In a press conference on January 27 attended by labor leaders of seven labor federations and associations under the umbrella of SAVE-SIM, the group manifested their opposition to the plan of the government to import 450,000 MT of sugar this year.
The rationale for their apprehension is that the unrestricted entry of subsidized sugar would be disastrous to the sugar industry with the overwhelming amount of imported sugar.
The importation of 450,000 MT of refined sugar will lead to the economic bankruptcy of the sugar industry’s 84,000 planters and the employment and livelihood loss of its 720,000 agricultural workers; 26,000 mill workers and some 3 million downstream dependents.
Sancho said, “they are the people who stand to lose the most in the industry if imported sugar will flood the country.”