SP Bukidnon opposes plan to liberalize sugar importation

MALAYBALAY CITY (BukidnonNews.net/02 February 2019) – The province’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) is against the reported plan of the government to liberalize the importation of sugar into the Philippines.

The SP presided by Vice Governor Rogelio Quiño unanimously passed a resolution during its regular session on Jan. 29, a resolution urging and recommending to the national government through the Department of Agriculture (DA) to stop the plan.

“The unregulated entry of imported sugar will lead to drop in purchases of sugar produced by farms and mills in the Bukidnon sugar milling district,” SP member Nemesio Beltran, author of the resolution said.

Beltran also cited the loss of livelihood of sugar farmers in the province most of whom are small farmers; unemployment of farm and mill workers; closure of business allied to sugar production; and overall slowdown of economic activity in Bukidnon.

“Any disruption in sugar farming or cessation in mill operations will severely and negatively affect the livelihood of farmers and workers in the province,” Beltran said.

The action was made after it was recently reported that the national government is planning to liberalize the sugar industry by allowing the unregulated entry of imported sugar into the Philippine market.

Beltran said sugar industry is a significant contributor towards national development where the sugar farming and mill operations generates Php 90 billion annually from the sale of raw sugar, refined sugar, molasses and ethanol and provides employment to 700,000 sugar workers across the 20 sugar-producing provinces of the country.

“The province of Bukidnon accounts 72 percent of the sugarcane area and 75 percent of sugar production of Mindanao,” Beltran said.

He said the Bukidnon sugar milling district covers the towns of Damulog, Cabanglasan, Dangcagan, Don Carlos, Quezon, Kibawe, Impasug-ong, Kadingilan, Maramag, Kitaotao, Lantapan, Pangantucan and the city of Malaybalay.

It has a combined total of 11,395 sugarcane farmers and around 72.40 percent of whom are farming less than five hectares.

Bukidnon sugar milling district has two sugar mills such as the Busco Sugar Milling Company, which also operates a sugar refinery in Quezon town, and the Crystal Sugar Milling Company in Maramag town – all in the southern part of Bukidnon.

The SP also decided to send copies of the resolution to the Secretaries of the DA and Department of Finance and to heads of Presidential Management Staff (PMS), Presidential Action Center, Sugar Regulatory Administration, Philippine Sugar Millers Association, Inc., and SGABI and ABSFI sugar planters associations of Bukidnon for their reference. (Mel B. Madera)