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Solons seek probe on sugar factory closure 

Packs of sugar are arranged on a shelf in a store in Quiapo, Manila, Aug. 11. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ EDD GUMBAN

OPPOSITION lawmakers called for a House joint panel investigation on the closure of a sugar factory in Batangas, citing the number of affected workers in the face of the government’s sugar importation plan.   

The three-member Makabayan bloc filed House Resolution No. 785 urging the agriculture and food and labor and employment committees to do a joint inquiry, in aid of legislation, after sugar factory Central Azucarera Don Pedro Inc. (CADPI) permanently closed on Dec. 15, 2022.  

“The government must exhaust all means to provide subsidy for the affected workers and farmers in order to mill all sugarcane left in CADPI since March, otherwise all sugarcanes will go to waste,” Assistant Minority Leader Arlene D. Brosas, who led the filing of the resolution, said in a statement.  

The closure could affect 10,980 hectares of sugarcane areas and could leave 4,584 sugarcane planters bankrupt, according to the resolution. 

CADPI chief executive officer Celso T. Dimarucut said last month that the factory has been “experiencing operational and financial challenges within the current conditions affecting the sugar industry in the Batangas area.”  

In a statement on Thursday, House Deputy Minority Leader France L. Castro, one of the co-authors of the resolution, said the government should take over the operations of CADPI instead of depending on sugar imports to meet demand.   

“Instead of importing sugar, the Marcos government should take over CADPI to save the local sugar industry so that thousands of plantation workers would not lose their jobs,” Ms. Castro said in Filipino.  

On Wednesday, the Sugar Regulatory Administration approved the importation of 440,000 metric tons of refined sugar to ease retail prices. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz

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