By Eireene J Gomez /Manila Times
Stakeholders of the sugar industry have vowed to support seven candidates for senator whom they consider “champions” of the industry, particularly for pushing to abort proposed sugar liberalisation in the country.
At a recent news conference in Bacolod City, sugar producers, small farmers, agrarian-reform beneficiaries and mill and farm workers agreed to collectively address various challenges to the industry over the last couple of years such as high-fructose corn (HFC) syrup and sugar sweetened beverage tax, and lately, moves by government economic managers to liberalise sugar importation.
“We come together because, once again, the sugar industry is faced with a threat — liberalised importation — that could well spell its death and sink the nation’s economy and our efforts to achieve full food self-sufficiency,” Tatak Kalamay said in a statement read by Raymond Montinola, spokesman for the Confederation of Sugar Producers (Confed).
“We come together, not to flex our muscles, not in a show of force, but to avail of that supreme remedy accorded by democracy, the electoral process, and throw our full support behind the (Senate) candidates who have proven themselves to be champions of the sugar industry,” the group added.
The candidates whom the movement will carry to the Senate are incumbent Senators Juan Edgardo Angara, Maria Lourdes “Nancy” Binay, Jose Victor “JV” Ejercito, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd and Cynthia Villar along with the personal bets of President Rodrigo Duterte former special assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and former Philippine National Police chief Ronald de la Rosa.
“These are the candidates who have walked their talk, standing with us as we fended off challenges such as the influx of HFCs and sugar taxes,” the statement said, referring to the incumbent senators who helped the industry hurdle the challenges including filing Senate Resolution 1014 last February, urging the government to abort the planned sugar liberalisation to safeguard the economy and welfare of industry stakeholders in 28 sugar-producing provinces in the country.
Go and de la Rosa were included in Tatak Kalamay’s list after the two bets assured the group of their support for the industry during a dialogue.
The group said similar launches would be held in the 28
sugar-producing provinces where they would concentrate their campaign for the seven candidates.
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