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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, December 10, 2012
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Zubiri: We’ve got to
speed things up


Senatorial candidate Juan Miguel Zubiri Saturday said he is happy to hear that the sugar industry has a master plan, but government’s push for its implementation to cushion the impact of the impending drop of tariffs on imports should move faster.

“We’ve got to speed things up for the sugar industry to survive,” he said.

Zubiri, who attended a mass wedding in Murcia town (story on page 3), was referring to the drop in tariffs on foreign sugar entering the country to 18 percent next year and to 5 percent by 2015.

He said sugar prices are expected to drop to about P1,000 to P1,050 per Lkg with tariffs on cheap imports down to 18 percent next year.

He maintained that the sugar master plan has not been adequately disseminated, especially to small farmers in Bukidnon. There are seven planters associations in Bukidnon so if Sugar Regulatory Administration chief Ma. Regina Bautista Martin visited the place twice, she probably only met two groups, Zubiri said.

He would be happy to invite Martin to visit Bukidnon again, Zubiri added.

Zubiri said he authored three laws - the Biofuels Act that became a law in 2006, the Renewable Energy Act in 2009 and the new Cooperative Code in 2009 .

However, he said the push for renewable energy and biofuels production in the Philippines today is at a near standstill.

Six years since the biofuels law has been passed, and only four biofuels plants have been built in the country that needs 25 of them to meet the domestic biofuels demand, he said.

Zubiri said this is not the fault of the SRA, “We also have to blame the Department of Energy and the Department of Trade and Industry who need to push this.”

If the country had enough biofuel plants it would not even have to export its sugar as sugarcane would be in demand domestically, he said.

Zubiri said he wishes he could bring the country’s sugarcane farmers to Brazil so they can see how it has made its biofuels production its star program and the envy of Latin America.

There are not enough viable and profitable alternatives in place in the Philippines, he said.

“I know they have a master plan but it is not moving fast enough, “ he added.

Filipinos are good at making plans that become the envy of others, but are always poor in implementation, he said.*CPG

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