‘SRA Will Not be Abolished’
The appointment of Herminigildo Serafica as the new head of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) is an assurance that the agency will not be abolished, said Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol yesterday.
Piñol, who is in Negros Occidental for a two-day visit, said President Rodrigo Duterte “only floated the idea.”
Piñol is meeting sugar workers this morning at the Provincial Capitol Social Hall and with sugar industry stakeholders in neighboring Talisay City in the afternoon.
“The job is not just a one-man job. We are going to work on this together,” he said, adding that “we would like to tackle the very serious problems of the industry.”
He said, a concern is the “very slow fund utilization of the SRA. For 2016, it used less than 50 percent of the fund under the Sugarcane Industry Development Act (SIDA). That is why the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) reduced its budget. For 2017, it has not yet utilized its budget and it is nearing October already.”
Under the SIDA, there is a P350 million fund at Land Bank of the Philippines for credit facility “that was not accessed,” he pointed.
‘POLITICS IN SRA’
On the issues raised by former SRA chief Atty. Ann Rosario Paner, Piñol said “I will not play her game. She is making all these statements. I do not know what her purpose is.”
“We are presidential appointees. If the President says that he does not like you anymore, shut up. What use, would it be (of help) if I engage her? She can say all she wants,” he said.
He also clarified that contrary to the claims of Paner that he doesn’t like her, “I was the one who endorsed her.”
He also assured sugar industry stakeholders that Sugar Order No. 3 “will be lifted.”
Sugar Order No. 3 imposes strict regulations on the entry of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) into the country.
“It cannot be changed anymore,” Piñol said.
He also defended the appointment of Serafica saying that “SRA is not Serafica.”
Piñol also said that the appointment of former Negros Occidental vice governor Emilio Yulo has already been signed.
Pressed by local media that the sugar industry is concerned that it “is not loved by the national government”, he said “ I understand their concerns and problems.”* (NDB)