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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, January 28, 2019
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Please donít mess with sugar!

Ninfa Leonardia

Something’s got to give, they say, but often it is someone who has to do so. That is what has happened in the United States that had been on a shutdown for several weeks because its President adamantly refused to do his job unless Congress gave in to his plan to build a $5 billion-plus wall on its border where Mexican migrants used to easily cross into their country. That had been the reason for the shutdown that stopped government services for weeks, depriving workers of their pay and creating a lot of confusion in the country.

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But guess who had to blink at last. Naturally, it had to be Donald Trump, who must have realized that he was being regarded as a demon by his own people for his stubbornness. So we have news now that he has ended his silly “shutdown”, but has qualified that by saying he may do it again. Well let him save face, after all he is a president. I doubt, though if the people will let him do it again, after winning this first encounter. Anyway, that wall is not likely to be built, at least not during his term. Perhaps if he will spend his own money, but that is still doubtful.

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Meanwhile, we have to brace ourselves again for hikes in the prices of fuel because we are being warned that we will soon be seeing higher prices in our favorite filling stations in the next weeks. In fact, the first in the series is expected possibly tomorrow, as Tuesday is usually the day gas stations start raising prices. My advice to users is for them to fill up today, because they might have to bite the bullet if they wait until Wednesday.

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Will he come? Organizers of the coming Bacolaodiat Festival in Bacolod have reportedly invited President Duterte to the opening of the activities. After all, he had accepted the invitation of the city to come for three consecutive MassKara Festivals now. As for the Bacolaodiat, it is almost a certainty that he will come, after all, election is coming, and he will need to drop some endorsements for his pet candidates.

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Speaking of candidates, how come there are so many who have filed certificates of candidacy for senator this time? Earlier, the reports said there were 74 in all from which we have to choose 12. I hear, though, that is being pruned to 63. Even so, that is still a big number to choose from. Lucky will be the ones whose names start with the first letters of the alphabet, they may get voted by those too lazy to go down the list. I have the feeling though, that we will end up with practically the same people who are now serving in that position. Familiarity, you know. Lucky will be the ones who will manage to get in. Well, maybe the President’s fair-haired boy (guess who) will be one of the sure winners.

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One of those who would have been a sure winner if she had chosen to go for a Senate post is former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who surprised everyone by announcing that she is not running for any position at all. Maybe she has had it, after assuming the highest office, and later making do with the House speakership. But she announced that she is retiring from politics, and who can blame her? She has gone through it all, and, perhaps, believes it is time to rest on her laurels.

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But if there is anything that is giving a lot of Negrenses sleepless nights, it is the proposal to liberalize the entry of sugar into the country. Whoever cooked up that idea must be someone who has no idea of how much such a move will affect the millions of families in the sugar producing areas. That will not only spell dislocation and deprivation of families but, for sure the rise of poverty and hunger again.

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It could mean a repeat of history, as when during the days of the Marcos dictatorship when the most affected industry was sugar, and the people of our province, both the well-to-do and the poor suffered. And like the famous Marie Antoinette of France, who, when told that the people were hungry because they had no bread, waved the problem away carelessly and said “Let them eat cake!” Then first lady Imelda Marcos, was also quoted as saying “May mga mayayabang pa ba doon sa Negros? (Are there still boastful people in Negros?)”.*

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