BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines — The head of the United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED) Manuel Lamata has called the Finance Secretary “anti-farmer” for the latter’s call to allow industrial users to directly import their sugar needs as a concession to plans of increasing taxes on sugar sweetened beverages.
Lamata, in a press release sent to DNX, said Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, on top of being “anti-farmer”, is also ill-advised.
Lamata said they are “totally against the move of Diokno to liberalize importation in favor of a few industrial users.”
“He (Diokno) wants to further enrich these industrial users even knowing that this move will kill the more than 5 million Filipinos who are dependent on the sugar industry,” Lamata said.
Diokno, he added, is bent only on raising taxes without thinking of its effects on the sugar farmers. “Is Diokno prepared to give livelihood to these 5 million industry stakeholders?”
Lamata added that Diokno should also think of the consumers or the general public who will also be affected as these industrial users will surely pass on the additional taxes to their consumers.”
UNIFED is now appealing to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos not to endorse the plan, which was never even done in consultation with the sugar industry.
“We know President Marcos’ heart is with and for the farmers as he has told us so, and we are calling for his intervention on this matter,” Lamata said.