Sugar groups told: Recall EO on importation

By Jay Cuesta, Roy Morilla and Sugar Hicap

Lawyers Atty.Jobert Pahilga and Jules Matibag of National Union of Peoples' Lawyers discussing the bitter pills the Cojuangco-Aquino clan has in mind for striking farmworkers

Manila, Philippines- Asserting that there is no legitimate basis to import sugar from foreign sources abroad, five of the biggest rural based groups—the Unyon ng Mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Amihan peasant women federation, the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Negros and the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday urged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to recall Executive Order No. 857 authorizing the National Food Authority (NFA) to import sugar together with the private sector.

In a joint press statement, the groups pressed Malacanang to stop NFA from importing 150,000 metric tons of sugar tax free, saying that such move will pave way for the massive dumping of foreign sugar products at the expense of local sugar producers all over the country. They said, the situation does not merit the importation of sugar from sources abroad.

“There is no dramatic indicator for the retail price of sugar to increase as mill gate prices are relatively lower at P1,700 to P1,900 per 50-kg, very far from government lies that it is P2,000 upward,” said KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos.

Citing the report of Sugar Alliance of the Philippines, composed of sugar millers and big planters, Ramos said raw production rose by 14.7%, refined production by 41.74%, even the milling rate of sugarcane to sugar increased by 4.19%, in short, where is the shortage the government is drumming about?” said Ramos.

Price manipulation

Likewise, leaders of UMA and NFSW accused officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) of engaging in price manipulation of sugar prices in the domestic market to justify sugar price hikes, enrich the pockets of big sugar traders, make commissions and justify the importation of sugar from foreign sources abroad.

They said agriculture and sugar officials for misleading the public on the actual price of sugar in the domestic market which they said had allowed big traders and sugar cartels to jack up prices of their products and promoted panic buying among consumers to further justify the skyrocketing prices of sugar.

UMA acting chair Butch Lazonde said the SRA and the Agriculture secretary Arthur Yap had some explaining to do as to why sugar price is going up to an unprecedented levels of P 52 per kilo despite of the government assurance of sufficient supply of sugar for the crop year 2009 and 2010 respectively.

“The general public has the right to know the real score behind the sudden hike in the prices of sugar since the situation does not merit for any sharp increase. Last December sugar price tops only for P42.00 per kilo but this January alone it had reached to P52.00 fearing the price will vault as high as P60.00. Such drastic hike on its price is very unlikely considering that we have enough supply for local consumption,” the UMA official asserted.

“This is a clear case of price manipulation. It shows unscrupulous big sugar traders and millers are behind this sudden sugar price hike. They are the ones who are benefitting from it. This is sheer profiteering. SRA and DA officials connived with big millers and traders to push this major disarray in the local market to benefit a few paved way for this sugar fiasco. Lazonde added

NFSW asserted the upsurge on the price if sugar as “fake” and had no really basis for the increase.

Ronald Dagu-ob NFSW national council member explained that “The province of Negros supplies 60% of sugar requirements and if we combine the supplies from other sugar producing provinces like Leyte, Pampanga, Tarlac and Mindanao this crop year, we think we’re going to have more than enough supplies to last all year round. So why the Department of Agriculture is eager to push for the importation of 150,000 MT of sugar?”

Lazonde said that “Both agencies are treating the situation just like another day in the office. Acting in a casual business like attitude without considering its effect to the general public”.

“As far as we are concern, sugar price should be not higher than the suggested retail price of P43.00 as the Department of Trade and Industry conveyed. If we follow the price of sugar last quarter of 2009 there have been increase of demands because of the holiday season for just only P2 to P3 top. But this January the price of sugar spiked four times, an increase of P14 to P20. This preposterous price frog leap, SRA and the Department of Agriculture can’t concretely explain to the worried stricken public”. Lazonde added.

“What the SRA, DA and the government do is to support our local sugar industry by subsidizing small sugar planters and at the same time help farm workers to increase their wages and benefits. Importation of sugar will only weakened our local sugar industry. To ensure a sufficient supply, we are urging the agencies concern to impose a moratorium not only on sugar but also with all agricultural products that is considered as basic commodities”. Lazonde said.

Special session

Meanwhile, the Pamalakaya asked Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Prospero Nograles to call special session on the issue of sugar following reports that the government will resort to sugar imports to the detriment of the local sugar industry and the sugar consuming public.

“Let this massacre of sugar industry by anarchic importation of sugar be discussed in a special session by Congress. We understand it is already the start of the campaign season, but this should not prevent lawmakers from taking this highly explosive commodity and issue and address the concerns of sectors affected by the looming sugar catastrophe characterized by massive importation and all-out price manipulation of sugar,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap. #

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1 Comment

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One response to “Sugar groups told: Recall EO on importation

  1. Well spoken. I have to research more on this as it is really vital info

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