February28 – Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito yesterday said the proposed sugarcane act should be certified as urgent by the President for it to be become a law this year, before tariffs on imported sugar drop to a nominal 5 percent in 2015.
The senator, who was in Bacolod, said he will ask Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District) to ask the President to certify it as urgent since he belongs to the administration party and has a better chance of getting a positive response.
Benitez authored the sugarcane act in the Lower House, while Ejercito filed a counterpart bill in the Senate, to help cushion the Philippine sugarcane industry from the effect of the drop of the tariffs on imported sugar, in compliance with the Asean Free Trade Area agreement.
The National Federation of Sugarcane Planters earlier urged the immediate passage of the sugarcane act to ensure that programs for farm productivity, mill efficiency and product diversification into ethanol, power and bio-plastics are speedily implemented.
If the sugarcane bills go through the normal process if we are lucky they could be passed into law before the end of the 16th Congress in 2016, but if they are certified as urgent we could have a law by the end of this year, the senator said.
Meanwhile, Ejercito said he will also ask Senator Cynthia Villar, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, to make the hearings of the sugarcane bills in the Senate a priority.
Negrenses should remind all those senators who promised to help the sugarcane industry during the campaign, to deliver on their commitments, he said.
Ejercito noted that government does not have adequate programs in place to cushion the lowering of tariffs on agricultural products by next year.* CPG