Zubiri to SRA: Reconsider proposed sugar importation program

April 7, 2022 by No Comments

SENATE Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri is calling on the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) not to push through with a new importation program supposedly proposed by the agency, after already receiving two injunctions for Sugar Order No. 3 in February 2022.“Our local sugar farmers are again approaching our office, deeply concerned over talks of a new SRA proposal that would green light the importation of 350,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar into the country,” he said in a statement Thursday, April 7.“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,” the senator said.Zubiri said that 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 during the harvest season,” he said.In February, the Sagay City and Himamaylan City Regional Trial Courts issued separate preliminary injunctions against the importation of 200,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar under Sugar Order No. 3.Sagay RTC Branch 73 Judge Reginald Fuentebella went so far as to say that the court recognizes “the grave and irreparable injury [that] will result from the implementation of SRA Sugar No. 3.”The senator expressed hopes that these injunctions have prompted the SRA to reconsider the harm that their importation programs would inflict on the local sugar farmers.“I enjoin Secretary William Dar and Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica to take heed of the call of our local sugar sector, and also of our courts—let us be on the side of our farmers,” Zubiri said.The proposed 350,000 MT importation deal will put them at a gross disadvantage, and leave them completely unable to recover from the setbacks already imposed by the pandemic and the skyrocketing fertilizer prices, he said.“Instead of this importation program, let us focus on delivering much-needed assistance to our farmers, and let us find ways to boost local production not just of crops, but of fertilizers as well,” the senator also said.Zubiri said that, “the SRA and DA are here not to shepherd imported produce into the country, but to strengthen our own production and to ensure that our farmers are able to make a good living out of their labor.”“So I reiterate my call to the SRA and the DA to devote all their efforts into supporting our farmers, and I assure them that we in the Senate are always prepared to work with them on the legislation and budgetary allocations that we need to make for our farmers,” he added. (PR)