Former Senator Serge Osmeña yesterday said he will meet with Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Perniato to explain the sugar industry’s reasons for opposing their push towards sugar import liberalization.
Osmeña, who met with the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations Negros-Panay Chapter officers in Talisay City, Negros Occidental, said import liberalization will cause “the collapse of the sugar industry in this country”.
He knows Diokno and Pernia, and he hopes they will listen to him “so we will be able to fix things,” Osmeña said.
“Something must be done now before it is too late,” he said.
Osmeña said he will ask them why they are opting for import liberalization and explain its consequences, especially on small farmers.
Osmeña, who is running for senator in the May polls, said that, if elected he will again act as the voice of the sugar industry and of Negros in the Senate.
“I understand the problems of the sugar industry and will try to help solve them,” said Osmeña, whose late mother, Lourdes de la Rama-Osmeña, was from Negros Occidental.
If laws need strengthening to protect the industry he would file measures in the Senate, Osmeña said.
Osmeña pointed out that sugar industries in other countries are highly protected by their governments, which is not happening in the Philippines.
Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. said Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol is calling a sugar industry stakeholders summit at the Department of Agriculture headquarters in Metro Manila on February 11 and 12 so they can come up with action plans to combat import liberalization.
Marañon, who met with Piñol during the weekend, said the agriculture secretary is behind the sugar industry’s position against import liberalization.
The president needs to be informed about how many thousands of workers will be displaced and how the industry is a big help to the Philippine economy, he said.
The sugar industry leadership should crack their heads at the summit to come up with solutions to save the industry, the governor said.
What is at stake here is the livelihood of five million Filipinos, the more than P100 billion annual contribution of the industry to the national economy, and the hundreds of billions of investments in the industry,” Enrique Rojas, president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, warned earlier.*
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