Senator pushes pro-farmer reps in SRA composition

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri is pushing for more pro-sugar farmers representatives in the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) following the conflict between its administrator and sugar farmers in connection with the recent move to import sugar at the height of milling season.

“I firmly believed that SRA should always be for the benefit of farmers,” Zubiri said in a press conference Tuesday night in Talisay City.

SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica got the ire of sugar farmers for allowing the importation of 200,000 metric tons of sugar at the peak of milling season.

Farmers called the move “ill-timed” and will lead to a huge drop in sugar prices.

This prompted the sugar industry leaders in Negros Occidental to go to court. Sagay Executive Judge Reginald Fuentebella later issue a writ of preliminary injunction stopping SRA from implementing Sugar Order Number 3 that allows sugar importation, and to maintain the status quo until the termination of the case.

Zubiri stressed that the SRA head and its board of directors should be pro-farmers.

Asked if he will join the call of some sugar industry leader for the removal of Serafica as SRA head, Zubiri said “we will wait for the next administration”.

“So, whoever sits as president, we will make sure to ask for a leader and members of SRA that are pro-farmers,” he added.

Zubiri, whose family’s roots are from Negros Occidental, stressed that he fully supports the cases filed by sugar federations against the importation move.

“I hope it (injunction) remains until the next administration,” he said.