BY DOMINIQUE GABRIEL G. BAÑAGA
BACOLOD City – Sugar industry leaders in Negros Occidental hope President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. would appoint a Negrense to head the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).
SRA is a government-owned and controlled corporation attached to the Department of Agriculture. It is tasked to promote the growth and development of the sugar industry through greater participation of the private sector, and to improve the working conditions of laborers.
Manuel Lamata, president of the United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED), said Marcos has an idea of the current situation of the agriculture sector, and particularly of the sugar industry.
Lamata, along with other leaders in the sugar industry, have been actively calling for the removal of SRA head Hermenegildo Serafica. It stemmed from SRA’s issuance of Sugar Order No.3 authorizing the importation of 200,000 metric tons of refined sugar that sugar industry leaders say is detrimental to the local sugar sector.
Why should a Negrense head the SRA?
According to Lamata, Negros accounts for 65 percent of the country’s sugar production. Negrense planters would find it easier to discuss issues affecting the country’s sugar industry with someone familiar with the sector.
Aside from being a Negrense, the next SRA head should also be helpful to local sugarcane farmers, a supporter of the Marcos administration, a pro-consumer, and a pro-trader, Lamata added.
UNIFED, he said, is also hopeful Marcos would also address the rising cost of diesel and fertilizer weighing down the sugar industry.
Earlier, Negros Occidental governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and 5th District Ccongressman-elect Emilio Dino Yulo III called on Marcos to appoint a Negrense to head the SRA.
“This is important. The SRA chief should get to feel the overall situation of the sugar industry,” Yulo said.
The sugar industry has a lot of stakeholders, not only the sugar planters, he added.
“There are also the millers and laborers, most of them are here in the province,” Yulo said./PN