MANILA, Philippines — Former Anakpawis party-list Rep and the National Vice Chair of Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura Ariel Casilao on Tuesday urged sugar workers and planters to lead various forms of protest against the push of the Duterte government to liberalize the sugar industry.
Casilao said that stakeholders in the sugar industry should learn lesson from the effect of RA 11203 Rice Liberalization Act which resulted to the P144B loss on income due to the massive and unli-rice importation affecting 2.3M rice farmers nationwide.
The livelihood and income of approximately 720,000 sugar workers spread in 28 provinces in the country, 84,000 planters, two-thirds of whom are small farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries will be greatly affected by this.
Hunger and poverty awaits the poor section of the sugar industry as currently, sugar workers are paid slave like wages while small planters suffer from high production costs and competition against sugar and sugar substitute imports, warned Casilao, once the liberalization of the sugar industry pushes through.
Casilao added that the Duterte government’s economic managers congress as well as the senate leadership consistently trump for liberalization despite the horrific experience of our local rice farmers on liberalization scheme.
“They prefer imported sugar to locally produced as it claim to be cheaper but basically a socio-economic calamity. It only further shackle’s the country, ordinary consumers and the manufacturing sector to the monopolistic control of sugar importers and traders cashing on windfall profits,” the former Anakpawis solon also said.
“Instead of liberalization, it should strengthen the sugar industry by pushing measures to lower if not totally ban sugar importation, allocating all local sugar production for domestic use, support the increase on sugar workers wage, push for the distribution of the billion-pesos social amelioration fund, implement genuine agrarian reform and break away from the clutch of the World Trade Organization,” Casilao said. (STACY ANG/IAMIGO/Currentph.com)