Fourteen labor groups from around Negros Island warned the government of making a “fatal mistake” if it will approve the proposed sugar import deregulation, as it looks like a “quick fix solution” to the industry’s problem without considering its effects.
Labor leaders of the various workers group from agriculture, transport, and commercial sectors signed the “Karga Tapas” Manifesto and expressed their opposition against the proposal to liberalize sugar importation in the country, in Bacolod City yesterday.
The statement said that it is unfortunate for the economic managers of the country to seek a quick fix solution to the problem of the sugar industry, without considering its implications, adding that it would be a fatal mistake for the government to approve the sugar import liberalization.
They called the move a firestorm that can obliterate the local sugar industry of Negros, leading to a severe economic dislocation of thousands of sugar farmers and workers.
“It would be a fatal mistake for the government in terms of policy direction and in the court of public opinion to approve the sugar import liberalization... this will result in despair, uncertainty, and disorder in the lives of the people,” it said.
The signing of the manifesto was led by General Alliance of Workers Association Secretary-General Wennie Sancho and Philippine Agricultural Commercial and Industrial Workers Union National-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines National President HernaneBraza.
Braza said that these 14 organizations are composed of about 10,000 workers from various sectors.
Sancho said this move to liberalize should be scrapped, as there is already the Sugar Regulatory Administration to regulate sugar importation.
“What will the SRA be regulating if the sugar will be deregulated?” Sancho asked, adding “(The government) should go after big-time traders and retailers as they are the culprits of why the sugar prices in the market are high, not the sugar producers.”
Sancho also said that the Karga Tapas Manifesto will be given to SRA Administrator Hermenigildo Serafica, whom they will ask to present it during the Sugar Summit next week.
Meanwhile, in a separate statement GAWA also urged the government to conduct sufficient and extensive consultation to all stakeholders of the sugar industry, especially for the small farmers and “Karga-Tapas” workers, to understand the collegial idea of the Economic Development Council.
It also said that they are still vigilant over the issue despite the clarification of Serafica that Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s statement may have been personal, as it is still a very important public concern.*
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