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Two senators support sugar producers in their fight against importation.

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Imee Marcos have been thanked by the country’s largest umbrella of sugar farmers for backing their complaint against the importation of 200,000 metric tons of refined sugar during milling season.

The United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED) said in a statement on Wednesday that the two senators called for an investigation into initiatives to import agricultural products like sugar.

“We are grateful to our Senate champions for their strong stance against ill-planned sugar importation and for seeking an inquiry into the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRAquestionable )’s importation program,” said UNIFED president Manuel Lamata, who is based in Negros Occidental.

Zubiri has filed Senate Resolution 995 to investigate the SRA’s issuance of Sugar Order No. 3, which allows the importation of 200,000 metric tons of sugar “even during the peak of the harvest and milling season,” as well as the DA’s importation programs on other agricultural products, with the goal of crafting policy that will ensure support for farmers and food security rather than reliance on imports.

Marcos questioned the DA’s importation policy, notably with regard to fish, claiming that Secretary William Dar “had done nothing but import rice, chicken, pork, fish, and now sugar.”

Based on Sugar Order No. 3, refined sugar imports for industrial users are expected to begin arriving on March 1.

After UNIFED’s member-association, the Rural Sugar Planters Association Inc., filed a civil case for injunction with a prayer for the issuance of TRO against the SRA represented by Administrator Hermenigildo Serafica, the Regional Trial Court Branch 73 in Sagay City, Negros Occidental issued a 20-day temporary restraining order against the importation order.

On February 24, the court will hear the application for a writ of a preliminary injunction.

Two planters’ associations in southern Negros also filed similar petitions with the RTC in Himamaylan City, according to copies of the petitions provided by UNIFED to reporters here on Wednesday.

Enrique Tayo of the Negros Occidental Federation of Farmers Association requested a temporary restraining order and a writ of a preliminary injunction, while David John Thaddeus Alba, general manager of the Asociacion de Agricultores de La Carlota y Pontevedra Inc. and La Carlota Mill District Multi-Purpose Cooperative, filed a motion for leave to intervene.

Meanwhile, the UNIFED expressed gratitude to the Provincial Board of Negros Occidentales for unanimously passing a resolution on Tuesday expressing opposition to sugar imports at a time when milling is at its highest.

“We appreciate our provincial officials’ support for our call.” They recognize that sugar is still our economic lifeline and that anything that damages the business will have a significant influence on our lives here,” Lamata said.

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