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Negros farmers back Enrile vs proposed deregulation of sugar imports

Jude Thaddeus Sayson - Juan Ponce Enrile - Stephen Paduano

Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile (center), a PMP senatorial candidate, with Bacolod candidate for vice mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson (left) Abang Lingkod Rep. Stephen Paduano attend a sortie at the NOMPAC Gym in Bacolod on Saturday March 16, 2019. (From Enrile’s media team)

Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, a senatorial candidate running under the Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), rallied supporters in Bacolod City who voiced their support for his defense of the local sugar industry amid plans by the country’s economic managers to deregulate sugar imports.

Speaking to sugar farmers and laborers from various parts of Negros Island on Saturday, the four-term senator said: “The sugar industry is the primary livelihood of five million Filipinos, including the farmers, workers, and their families. The inordinate importation of sugar will have a very negative impact on the local sugar industry and the people who depend on it. Maraming magugutom.”

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“Other than that, the industry is contributing at least P120 billion annually to the economy not just because we are selling sugar but also for bio-ethanol, bio-power, and other products,” the veteran lawmaker, who previously served as secretary of finance under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, said.

Enrile added that the government should first aid local farmers with programs to improve the industry’s productivity.

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“If we want sugar to become cheaper, let’s seek measures to reduce the costs of production such as the costs of fuel, farm inputs, and farm tools. We can also assist farmers by providing them loans to modernize their equipment,” Enrile said.

In seeking a fifth term in the Senate, the former Senate President said that he would seek to protect the local farmers, many of whom are beneficiaries of agrarian reform.

“Kaya ako nandito ngayon sa Bacolod, sa Negros. Isa ito sa mga isyu na aking tututukan,” Enrile said.

Juan Ponce Enrile shaking hands in Bacolod

Enrile shakes hands with some of his supporters in Bacolod City. (Photo from Enrile’s media team)

Following his dialog with farmers in Bacolod, Enrile dined with Bacolod Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia and proceeded to a sortie at the NOMPAC Gym near the provincial capitol in the afternoon.

The 95-year old candidate then toured the Libertad Public Market and the Manokan Country — a complex of stalls serving Bacolod’s chicken inasal — to converse with local vendors and residents.

Enrile is set to make his rounds in the cities of Victorias and Silay for a dialog with farmers and fisherfolk on Sunday morning before proceeding to Iloilo City. /atm

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