SRA chief: Give Sugar Board time to decide on HFCS issue

BACOLOD CITY — Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) chief Anna Rosario Paner asked sugar industry stakeholders to give the Sugar Board “more time” to decide on the issue of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) importation.

Paner, who met with protesters at the SRA Office here Friday, said the agency is currently having a series of process and consultations thus, they are asking for understanding from all stakeholders and allow them to deliberate the matter in a few more weeks.

Paner and three other members of the Sugar Board, including Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol as chair, are set to meet in Ormoc City, Leyte on February 17.

“If you ask me of SRA’s stand, let me defer it first to the Board. I cannot preempt the position of the other members,” she said, adding that by that time, there can be resolution on the matter.

Whatever the result of the deliberation, it would be a milestone for the sugar industry, Paner said.

“We will implement whatever the directive of the Board is, then certain rules will be spelled out for everybody’s guidance,” the SRA chief added.

Industry leaders and multi-sectoral groups have been protesting the importation of HFCS, which they said is killing the sugar industry.

Some 100 agrarian reform beneficiaries and farmers staged a protest rally in front of Coca-Cola bottling plant in Barangay Mansilingan here Friday.

At least 200 members of the Kilusang Pagbabago-Negros Island Region (KP-NIR), Sugar Solidarity Against High Fructose Corn Syrup (SSA-HFCS), and other multi-sectoral groups also joined the rally outside of the SRA Office here.