Unifed threatens legal actions if new sugar order pushes through

April 8, 2022 by No Comments

THE United Sugar Producers Federation (Unifed) may seek contempt charges against Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) chief Hermenegildo Serafica if he signs the proposed sugar importation program that will allow 350,000 metric tons (MT) of raw and refined sugar into the country.Its president Manuel Lamata said they have received a draft of Sugar Order (SO) No. 4 which is “similar and in a bigger volume than the previous order that caused the filing of our case against him and the SRA last February.”“The moment Administrator Serafica signs and makes that draft SO4 as official, we will haul him in court again for contempt and seek his arrest for defying the ongoing case filed against him related to the suspended SO3,” Lamata said in a statement yesterday, April 8.In February this year, the Sagay City and Himamaylan City Regional Trial Courts issued separate preliminary injunctions against the importation of 200,000 MT of sugar under SO3.“This proposed SO4 is a slap on the faces of the two regional trial courts here that issued rulings to halt any importation program pending a final resolution to the cases that has been deemed to cause damage to the sugar industry,” he said.Lamata added that the draft, issued last April 5, is “tantamount to a midnight deal that will obviously greatly benefit the industrial users, particularly the bottling companies.”Of the proposed volume of sugar imports, 250,000 MT will be refined sugar, 150,000 MT of which was specified as premium grade or bottlers’ grade refined sugar. The remaining 100,000 MT will be raw sugar.The Unifed official said that while they are not against any importation based on factual supply and demand data from the ground, “this proposed import program is clearly favouring a particular sector and that is what we are against at.”Earlier, Senator Imee Marcos, who chairs the Senate Economic Affairs Committee, also called out Agriculture Secretary William Dar to refrain from signing the draft SO4.Marcos described the agriculture state as “an epic disaster” and warned about approving any “midnight express deal” regarding the sugar importation.Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri also issued a statement condemning the proposed SO4 citing the pending court cases.“Our courts have already landed on the side of our sugar farmers last February, so it’s disheartening that we are having the same conversation about importation again,” Zubiri said.“Lest the SRA will be accused of this being a midnight deal bereft of propriety and due process. They should not allow this while our farmers are harvesting their crops,” he added. (PR)