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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, August 18, 2016
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DA urges sugar industry:
Help gov't reduce poverty

Agriculture Undersecretary Evelyn Laviña urged sugar industry stakeholders to join hands with government in reducing the poverty level in the country during her keynote address at the opening of the 63 rd Philsutech Annual National Convention in Cebu City Tuesday.

“Let's work together. The collaboration between the government and the sugar industry will be easier because you are organized and strongly united. Let's reduce the poverty level in every province,” said Laviña who spoke in behalf of Agriculture Sec. Manny Piñol.

Laviña, who handles agri-business, high value crops and financing program of the agriculture department, briefed the around 1,000 delegates, sponsors and guests gathered at Waterfront Hotel, Lahug, Cebu City on the department's thrust under President Rodrigo Duterte's administration.

“Our marching orders from the President are to make food available and affordable for our people and to eliminate corruption in all levels of the institution,” she said.

Agriculture officials are going around the country and consulting the farmers and fisherfolks at the grassroots level so that the government response will be wholistic, unified among all government agencies, inclusive of all sectors and tailor-fit for the needs of specific groups, such as indigenous peoples, she said.

Earlier, she met with Philsutech officers and the presidents of the various sugarcane planters federations who explained to her that the sugar industry needs to embark on mechanization due to lack of laborers and also to become more cost-efficient.

They added that the industry needs to consolidate small farms and to expand the sugarcane area to fill the capacity and maximize the efficiency of the mills. Moreover, the millers and producers pointed out the need for more farm-to-market roads.

Laviña assured that she will bring the industry's concerns to the attention of Sec. Piñol for proper government action.

Meanwhile, Labor and Employment Undersecretary Dominador Say assured stakeholders that the sugar industry is covered by certain laws and Supreme Court rulings which apply in the midst of government's avowed aim to end contractualization and “ENDO” or “end of contract”.

Say, the chief legal counsel of the department, who pitched in for Labor Sec. Silvestre Bello said the government's thrust covers only employment relationships which violate the workers constitutional rights to security of tenure, such as the signing of five-month contracts and re-hiring the same employees after a month to circumvent the six-month period for the regularization of the workers.*Butch Bacaoco







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