Southern Tagalog sugarcane workers opposes importation, liberalization of sugar industry

Southern Tagalog sugarcane workers opposes importation, liberalization of sugar industry

Quezon City – As sugarworkers from the Batangas province, joined the coconut farmers from Quezon province holding camp outside the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) compound in Quezon City, all under the Katipunan ng Samahang Magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK), the Anakpawis Party-list expressed its support to their opposition against the Duterte government’s proposed plan to further liberalized the national sugar industry.

Leaders of sugarworkers association of Batangas affiliated with the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) dialogued with officials of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to submit their position paper against the plan. Earlier, lawmakers under the Makabayan bloc filed House Resolution 439, conveyed opposition to the plan and emphasized that it would hardly hit stakeholders of the industry, especially the farm workers and small land-owning planters. Around 700,000 sugar field workers and their 2 million Filipinos will be displaced and affected by the liberalization policy, according to the resolution.

“As if the impact of rice liberalization on farmers and poor consumers is not enough, the Duterte government is now planning to liberalize the sugar industry. We must learn from the present lesson that the neoliberal policy of liberalization is anti-people and anti-Filipino. We must oppose this measure,” former Anakpawis lawmaker and UMA National Vice-Chairperson said in a press statement.

He said that sugar farm workers and “sakada” (migrant farm workers) only earn P115 to P125 daily, while women are with lower P110 to P115.

“While sugar workers are already engrossed in inhuman state of poverty, liberalization means their total displacement or of being thrown into gross unemployment,” he said.

This will worsen the socio-economic standing of sugar workers in the province, which will contribute to the ever-narrowing market of local businesses.

“Economic managers are geared for liberalization, but ignores its comprehensive impact to local economies, which is based on the declining purchasing power of the mass consumers. The winning camp on this issue is obviously the foreign monopoly traders, while on the losing end are the sugar workers and small planters, the small-and-medium business sector, and even the intermediate manufacturing sector,” he elaborated.

He warned against the archaic promise that prices of sugar will be lower if the sector is liberalized.

“While we are witnessing that the promise of lower prices did not happen in rice liberalization, Duterte and his neoliberal cohorts is blabbering the same for the sugar sector,” he said.

He urged the people, including small-and-medium business sector, to oppose the move as it will transform the economy into a full-fledged import-dependent on sugar requirements, while displacing stakeholders in the countryside. ###

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